Governing Through Patronage: The Rise of NGOs and the Fall of Civil Society in Palestine and Morocco

  • Mona AtiaEmail author
  • Catherine E. Herrold
Original Paper


This article examines foreign aid and government funding to NGOs as forms of patronage and explores the impact of such funding on the nature and role of civil society. Using qualitative research from Palestine and Morocco, we argue that patronage transforms NGOs into apparatuses of governing. NGOs become key sites for the exercise of productive power through the technologies of professionalization, bureaucratization, and upward accountability. The article explores how this transformation of NGOs depoliticizes their work while undermining their role as change agents within civil society. The findings have implications for understanding the transformation of NGOs, the relationship between patrons and their grantees, and, finally, for exploring the limitations of NGOs as vehicles for social change in sensitive political environments.


Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO) Civil society Governing Patronage Palestine Morocco 



This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1352435. The research also received support from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The authors would like to thank Khaldoun AbouAssi for his constructive feedback as well as the anonymous reviewers.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Indiana University-Purdue University IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA

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