37 J. Soc. & Soc. Welfare 149 (2010)
Institutional Structures of Opportunity in Refugee Resettlement: Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Refugee NGOs

handle is hein.journals/jrlsasw37 and id is 145 raw text is: Institutional Structures of Opportunity
in Refugee Resettlement:
Gender, Race/ethnicity, and Refugee NGOs
STEPHANIE J. NAWYN
Michigan State University
Department of Sociology
Previous research suggests that social welfare assistance can fur-
ther subordinate already disadvantaged recipients. Refugee re-
settlement, essentially a social welfare program, offers a diferent
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-gov-
ernmental 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 pro-
viding opportunities for refugees to counteract subordinating
gender and racial/ethnic relations through advocacy and cul-
tural 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 structur-
ing opportunities for immigrants to challenge social inequality.
Key words: refugee resettlement, welfare, non-governmental or-
ganizations, gender, race/ethnicity
Introduction
When refugees enter the United States, one of their first
interactions with American institutions is with non-gov-
ernmental organizations (NGOs) administering the refugee
resettlement program. Previous research on resettlement
Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, March 2010, Volume XXXVII, Number 1
149

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