Humanitarianism Transformed

TitleHumanitarianism Transformed
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsBarnett, Michael
JournalPerspectives on Politics
Volume3
Issue4
Pagination723-740
Date Published12/2005
Abstract

The scale, scope, and significance of humanitarian action have expanded significantly since the late 1980s. This article reflects on two ways in which humanitarianism has been transformed. First, its purpose has been politicized. Whereas once humanitarian actors attempted to insulate themselves from the world of politics, they now work closely with states and attempt to eliminate the root causes of conflict that place individuals at risk. Second, a field of humanitarianism has become institutionalized; during the 1990s the field and its agencies became more professionalized and rationalized. Drawing on various strands of organizational theory, I examine the forces that have contributed to these transformations. I then explore how these transformations have changed the nature of what humanitarian organizations are and what they do. In the conclusion I consider how the transformation of humanitarianism links to the relationship between international nongovernmental organizations and world order, including the purpose of humanitarian action and its distinctive function in global politics.

URLhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/3688176
Short TitlePerspectives on Politics
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