NGOs, Interest Groups and Activists
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This chapter marks the beginning of the fourth part of the book in which a typology is set up for distinguishing legitimate NGOs from related actors based on the normative framework in Part III. It is argued that NGOs are special stakeholders of corporations because they have their origins in civil society and because they represent public claims. Yet, NGOs continuously need to prove their legitimacy. By doing so, they can mark a distance to radical activists on the one hand and to interest groups on the other hand. NGOs share characteristics with both of these actor types. With activists, they share the content of their claims since activists typically also raise claims that have societal relevance. The boundaries between NGOs and interest groups become blurred for example if NGOs engage with corporations and start orienting themselves along economic imperatives. In line with the three dimensions of the legitimacy deficit of NGOs introduced in Part I, it is argued that the difference between NGOs, activists, and interest groups can best be assessed along substantive, structural and procedural criteria.
KeywordsNGOs Interest groups Activists Stakeholders Blurred boundaries
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