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Policy Advocacy and NGOs Assisting Immigrants: Legitimacy, Accountability and the Perceived Attitude of the Majority

Published: 15 February 2022
 by  MDPI

Abstract: The article addresses the involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) assisting immigrants in policy advocacy (PA) connecting the perspectives of political science and social work. In a context in which many politicians and a major part of society opposes immigration, it examines how NGOs perceive their legitimacy and accountability concerning their attempts to influence policymaking. It also studies how the attitude of the society towards these NGOs affects their work. The analysis builds on the multimethod research combining qualitative and quantitative approaches carried out among Czech NGOs. Among the key findings is that, when talking about legitimacy, NGOs’ representatives refer mainly to themselves and their own vision of society. This is however a manifestation of internalized external legitimacy sources such as democratic principles and existing laws, together with experience and direct contact with clients, as well as moral obligations. As for accountability, despite many people identify these NGOs as irresponsible welcomers, in fact most of them feel accountable primarily to society (in particular its weakest parts), then to immigrants and finally to themselves. The negative attitude of the majority toward these NGOs clearly affects their PA activities, e.g., their access to authorities, the raised topics and applied tools or types of arguments.
Keywords: legitimacy / accountability / political participation / macro practice social work / civil society / Czech Republic / policymaking / integration policy / immigration policy / migration governance

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