NGOs are broadly characterized as beneficent civil society actors who affirm universal values (Castells, 2008) and operationalize humanitarian interventions that governments fail to achieve. Due to their increasing prominence in international relations, scholars, policy makers and publics should attempt to understand how and where these institutions are situated in the global public sphere. While some NGOs work closely with governments to achieve social change, others operate outside the purview of the state, and their methodologies differ vastly according to their cultural frameworks. NGOs also communicate differently according to their institutional needs and self-interests. The divergent aspects of the way NGOs operate and communicate point to a need to view NGOs critically, through three categorical lenses: as representing state interests, cultural interests, and institutional interests. Where do these representational categories overlap and intersect? How are they manifested in NGOs’ communication processes? In this paper, I will draw on aspects of globalization, rhetoric, dramatism and narrative theories to show how NGO framing mechanisms situate these actors within the global public sphere. I will use an international anti-trafficking NGO operating in Thailand and Cambodia as a case study, examining how their self-representation communicates aspects of state, cultural and institutional interests. Finally, I will begin developing a framework for viewing NGOs as public diplomacy actors.
|Keywords:||NGOs, Globalization, Public Diplomacy, Rhetoric, Dramatism, Thailand, Cambodia|
Doctoral Student, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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