News >> DANGO Conference: Call for Papers

non-governmental organisations and politics in contemporary Britain

Dango Conference Logo

5-6 July 2007
University of Birmingham

Download the call for papers in PDF (Acrobat) or WORD (Microsoft)

Since 1945, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and new social movements have proliferated in Britain. Over 5,000 are today affiliated to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. Historians are only just beginning to be aware of their importance, as new archives are being discovered. As commentators recognise the tremendous significance of NGOs in redefining notions of political engagement, scholars are realising that political history cannot be understood simply in reference to established political parties and that social history in the contemporary period cannot be examined solely with reference to the classic institutions of, typically, the labour movement. NGOs have raised new political agendas, transformed and revived associational life, re-politicised generations seemingly disillusioned with the politics of the ballot box, and inspired numerous pieces of legislation and regulatory initiatives. Clearly, the history of NGOs is seen as an emerging and extremely important means of examining contemporary history. This conference aims to open up the subject and to contribute to an initial 'mapping' of the scope and extent of NGO-based activism in Britain since the Second World War.

Contributions will be welcomed in the following areas:

  • human rights
  • internationalism and developmentalism
  • environmentalism
  • women's rights
  • consumerism
  • sexual politics
  • health care
  • minority rights
  • peace and disarmament
  • housing and homelessness
  • animal rights
  • poverty and social exclusion
  • welfare agencies
  • humanitarian relief
  • faith-based activism
  • age-based organisations
  • social and political reform
  • disability groups
  • moral reform movements

In addition, the conference will explore the following themes:

  • the 'decline' of voluntarism
  • civil society
  • the professionalisation of the third sector
  • rights-based activism
  • new social movements
  • private sector influences
  • the democratic role of NGOs
  • class and social activism
  • the size and influence of the NGO sector
  • religion and social activism
  • State-NGO relations

These areas and themes are not an exhaustive list, and proposals are welcomed on any area relevant to the conference.

The conference is being organised by Nicholas Crowson and Matthew Hilton and hosted by the DANGO project, based in the Centre for Contemporary Governance and Citizenship in the UK (CenConUK) at the University of Birmingham. DANGO will create an online database of the archives of non-governmental organisations operating in contemporary Britain, providing information on the institution's history and on the condition, content and accessibility of its archives. CenConUK was established in January 2005 and aims to examine all aspects of contemporary British history, focussing especially on the meaning of governance and citizenship. For more details see the CenConUK website.

One of the outcomes from the conference will be an edited collection that could serve as an survey book for NGOs in the UK, so we are particularly looking for proposals that offer analyses of whole sectors (the Greens, race, disability, etc.) over the period, or address major themes relevant to the area as a whole, such as those we have set out above).

Proposals for the conference should come in the form of a 200 word abstract, to be submitted by 23 December 2006. Please send to the DANGO Project Officer, James McKay (

If you would like to be kept informed of details for this conference please e-mail Sarah Davies with a contact address.

Download the call for papers in PDF (Acrobat) or WORD (Microsoft)