Articles | Volume 60, issue 4
31 Dec 2005
 | 31 Dec 2005

Socio-spatial opportunities and the power of place : Bankwatch-NGOs in Washington, D.C.

R. Bläser

Abstract. For quite some time. social science has been dealing with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from different empirical and theoretical angles (Frantz 2002). However, one aspect is severely underdeveloped in this research: the role of the socio-spatial context conditions under which NGO actors operate. Using the example of Bankwatch-NGOs in Washington, D.C, who have been advocating World Bank reform for more than two decades, the present paper elaborates on this deficit in NGO research. Following Action and Structuration Theory, it is argued that their embeddedness in an institutionally rich context provides them with access to a distinct set of power resources. Furthermore, it is suggested that such privileged access to resources puts the Washington, D.C. based NGOs in a favorable position in terms of influencing the processes of hegemony formation in this particular subject matter. In conclusion, the unique Washington, D.C. context is conceptualized as an action enabling socio-spatial opportunity structure.