Ph.D. Candidate in Social Welfare, GC CUNY
“Lách” – Dancing in the Shadow of the Law – Strategies of Vietnamese Civil Society Organizations Serving Children Work with One-party Communist State Agencies
More than four decades after the Vietnam War ended, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) has monopoly control over the country’s social and economic development. Despite scarce resources, CPV has set up a multiple-level management structure and reduced other government entities’ ability to bring civil society organizations (CSOs) into its political structure. Trang Kelly presents preliminary findings from interviews with 15 informants from six types of CSOs in Vietnam’s five largest cities about strategies that CSOs deployed in dealing with government agencies. This study identifies “Tiến thoái lưỡng nan” or Catch-22 situations: paradoxical, inconsistent, and contradictory situations that the CSOs’ administrators described as challenges in working with government agencies while providing social services for children and families. The administrators employ a common strategy of chasing around to find the loopholes they use to solve the problems they face. In Vietnamese, lách translates to “dancing in the shadow of the law”, a term that they use to describe how to utilize these loopholes.
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