Institutional Structures of Opportunity in Refugee Resettlement: Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Refugee NGOs


Nawyn, Stephanie. 2010. “Institutional Structures of Opportunity in Refugee Resettlement: Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Refugee NGOs.” Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare 37 (1): 149-67.

Author: Stephanie Nawyn


Previous research suggests that social welfare assistance can further subordinate already disadvantaged recipients. Refugee resettlement, essentially a social welfare program, offers a different perspective on how welfare assistance might exert social control. Using data gathered from 60 in-depth interviews with people working in resettlement and observations at refugee non-governmental organizations (NGOs), this paper argues that refugee NGOs provide a complex institutional opportunity structure that has the potential to reproduce the gender and racial/ethnic subordination embedded in refugee welfare policy while also providing opportunities for refugees to counteract subordinating gender and racial/ethnic relations through advocacy and cultural activities. These findings refine the conclusions of previous literature on the role NGOs play in incorporating refugees into American life, and point to the importance of NGOs for structuring opportunities for immigrants to challenge social inequality.

Keywords: refugee resettlement, welfare, non-governmental organizations, Gender, race/ethnicity

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Ethnicity, Gender, NGOs, Race

Year: 2010

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