AbstractsPolitical Science

Operating in a sectarian field - a case study of the Lebanese sport NGO GAME working on integrating Syrian refugees

by Camilla Paulsen

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: NGOs; Syrian refugees; Lebanon; donors; politics; development; integration; sectarianism
Record ID: 1119091
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/23228


The aim of this thesis is to find out how the Lebanese NGO GAME intends to act as an apolitical NGO within the political development field in Lebanon, focusing on how they try to create integration between Syrian refugees and Lebanese youth. The analysis is based on 2 months fieldwork in Lebanon and the theory frame is primarily based on Pierre Bourdieu’s terms: fields, habitus, doxa and capitals. Gerard Clarke’s critical understanding of NGOs as political actors is also used. The research - based on structural constructivism - analyses GAME on three levels: 1) as an arena, in which the integration of Syrian and Lebanese youth is analysed 2) as an actor, in which GAME’s political activities are analysed 3) looking at how GAME can be understood within the development field in Lebanon. The research shows that, due to the missing state bureaucracies in Lebanon, there is no public funding for NGOs. Therefore they often have to gain funding from sectarian parties or international donors, both of which influence the NGOs to act politically. GAME is funded by international donors, which affects its focus on democracy, gender equality, and integration of Syrians. GAME does not see these aspects as political - because they are not affiliated with sectarianism, which GAME tries to avoid – but as humanitarian and neutral. However, it is evident that GAME is acting politically: • When they create integration - by changing the view among the Syrian and Lebanese youth towards ‘the other’, GAME is acting in opposition to the government’s policy. • When GAME at the same time creates discourses on Syrian refugees and gender equality, which reaches further into society. • When GAME acts as a vehicle for donors and educates the youth about democracy, This research thereby illustrates the discrepancy between the NGOs apolitical ethos and the political work that is done owing to the funding received from western donors.