Research Student: Binh Thi An Trinh
Civil society and Development Alternatives through everyday practices of Vietnamese non-governmental development organizations.
In Viet Nam, the social spheres have been predominantly regulated by the Communist Party. Under the central planning period, all social and associational activities are organised and channeled through the Party’s mass organisations and collective cooperatives.
After the economic reforms usually refered as “doi moi” during the late 1980s and with the expansion of market forces, private organisations are additionally encouraged to engage in a number of development areas related to education, training, science and technology, healthcare, cultural and sport activities as the state decided to socialise (equally comprehended as privatise) some of basic social services.
Though social spheres are regulated by the Party-State, recent years have seen a vigorous engagement of local non-governmental organisations in policy arena. It is now common that many private social organisations taking the lead in initiatives or public discussions of wide ranges of developmental issues.
This research aims at understanding the process by which a civil society is formed in Viet Nam through an analysis on NGOs’ everyday practices in the development sector after doi moi. By using contemporary discussions about civil society and development alternatives, my research project attempts to explore the everyday practices of non-governmental development organizations (NGOs) as the mobilisation of a social force in producing development alternatives.
In particular, a qualitative research effort aims at revealing interactions of NGO actors with existing institutions and processes of building new ones through innovative and repetitive practices, results from which gradually constitute ongoing sociopolitical change alongside with the economic transformation in Vietnam.
I had a BSc in Journalism at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi and completed my two Masters degrees in Public Policy at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo and in Globalisation and Development at the Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB) in the University of Antwerp.
I used to work for a governmental agency in the area of productivity improvement. I started my career in the development sector by engaging in two gender empowerment projects initiated by UNDP and Plan International in Vietnam subsequently. I had some years collaborating with the PLD, a local NGO specialising in law research and legal aid services in Vietnam.
What motivated me to undertake PhD study?
Taking this PhD research programme, I am fully aware of the precious privileges of being improved with advanced research capacity coupled with the consolidated professional knowledge and especially being a part of the global network for development.
After this PhD programme, I have a clear vision of a distinctive advancement in my career and confidence in taking over high profile positions in development research and practice in the future.
What makes me passionate about my subject?
After completing a Master’s course in Globalisation and Development in Belgium in 2012, I worked for the Institute for Research on Policy, Law and Development (PLD) which is a Vietnamese NGO.
This first time experience working in this organisation and getting myself familiar with NGO’s approach from the grassroots level has brought me this Phd research interests in NGOs, civil society and development alternatives. By observing their everyday practices, I find NGOs an emerging but dynamic social component in shaping contemporary changes which are worth an investigation.
This research also offers an opportunity to study in-depth the process by which a civil society is formed in Viet Nam while paying close attention to the interplay of state, civil society and expanding market forces, results from which can inform policy making for the development of civil society as well as the inclusive development prospects of Viet Nam in the coming time.
What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?
I will continue my work in a partnership with the Vietnamese NGOs, International NGOs/intergovernmental organisations and with governmental partners for the effort to build up the wealth of research resources on social and development subjects. I will try to disseminate what I have accumulated from the PhD research programme to new generations of development practitioners and policy makers in Viet Nam through professional networks and in collaboration with some academic institutions.
From five to ten years time, I plan to lead an NGO in Viet Nam which is capable of providing technical services and development assistance to vulnerable communities in Vietnam and those in other neighbouring countries such as Laos, Cambodia or Myanmar both as a consultant and an implementing partner in exchange programmes for a more sustainable and inclusive development of the region.