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Project-Think and the Fragmentation/Defragmentation of Civil Society in Egypt, Palestine and Turkey

Jun 1, 2022

Project-Think and the Fragmentation and Defragmentation of Civil Society in Egypt, Palestine, and Turkey

Catherine Herrold, Gizem Zencirci

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, November 2021

Catherine Herrold

Catherine Herrold

By drawing from authors’ fieldwork in Egypt, Palestine, and Turkey, this article critically examines perceptions of project-think among civic organizations in the Middle East. As a managerial rationality, project-think has four key components: (a) a prioritization of discrete needs and discrete groups, (b) an orientation toward funding, (c) a focus on short-term and measurable results, and (d) the positioning of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as career ladders. Through unpacking these four components, we find that project-think is perceived to contribute to the fragmentation of civil society by fracturing social issues, dividing the NGO sector, isolating organizational energy, and complicating relations between groups. Simultaneously, we demonstrate that, civic actors use various strategies to circumvent the perceived impacts of fragmentation. By mapping these intertwined meanings and experiences of fragmentation and defragmentation, this study contributes to debates concerning the political effects of managerialism among civil society in the Global South.