Taking Care of the Refugees: Exploring Advocacy and Cross-sector Collaboration in Service Provision for Refugees

  • Michael FehsenfeldEmail author
  • Klaus Levinsen
Original Paper


This article explores the interplay and collaboration between refugee organization volunteers and social service professionals. On the basis of qualitative interviews and observations, we study how volunteers from Danish local refugee organizations experience their interaction with refugees and social service professionals, and how they act and perceive their role as advocates for the refugees. The purpose is to gain insight into the everyday practices and strategies of civil society organizations attempting to balance the demands and interests of stakeholders and internal legitimacy claims in a hybrid environment. In addition to providing effective refugee assistance and services, refugee organizations achieve legitimacy through professional communication, campaign work, and networking with key political actors and stakeholders. However, although it may be less visible, advocacy-oriented activities also take place in local organizations at ‘street level.’ We identified three distinct types of strategies to balance issues of autonomy in the collaborative relationship with the municipalities and simultaneously engage in advocacy activities.


Volunteers Advocacy Refugees Public service professionals Cross-sector collaboration Hybridity 



The authors wish to thank Nordea Foundation and the participating municipalities for supporting this work. We also thank Bjarne Ibsen, University of Southern Denmark, the anonymous reviwers, and the journal editors for their helpful and constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sports Science and Clinical BiomechanicsUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business EconomicsUniversity of Southern DenmarkEsbjergDenmark

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