Harnessing Hope Through NGO Activism

Sasha Courville, Nicola Piper

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This article explores the relationship between hope and agency in the contexts of migrant rights activism and alternative trading relationships created through social and environmental certification systems. Using interviews with key respondents from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), hope is assigned a positive role in the complex process of social change, providing that common goals can be agreed upon and achieved along the way. Two main layers of analysis emerge in this article. The first explores the relationship between hope and agency, with a particular focus on power, both enabling and coercive. Powerful groups can hijack hope, but also hope can be used to mobilize various marginalized groups to find a collective voice, eventually leading to empowerment. The power relations among groups determine how competing collective hopes play out in action. A second layer to the relationship between hope and action is the way in which hope effects social change. Through conceptualizing hope within the context of the change process, we address the relationship between hope, agency, and time. An important ingredient linking hope, agency, and time in a sustainable manner is the notion of empowerment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-61
    JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
    Issue numberMarch
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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