Between Scylla and Charybdis: Enterprise and Austerity as a Double Hazard for Non-Governmental Organisations in France and the UK

Dr. Akwugo Emejulu, University of Edinburgh                                                              Dr. Leah Bassel, University of Leicester

This briefing paper examines the rise of the idea and practices associated with ‘enterprise’ within the third sectors in Scotland, England and France. In our pilot project exploring the challenges facing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) during the current economic crisis and subsequent austerity, we found that the logic of free market relations had penetrated and embedded itself into the rationale and practices of the third sector in these three countries. Principles of competition, the accumulation of assets and the commodification of services and products offered by NGOs had either been imposed onto individual organisations by the local or national state or organisations had actively adopted these ideas in order to survive austerity. Questions remain about what these free market principles embedded within the NGO sector mean for the most marginalised groups in France and the UK—minority women. We suggest that the ability for minority women to articulate and take action on complex social justice claims within the sector is under threat because these claims may well be silenced and/or ignored due to the prevailing enterprise logic of the sector.

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