Donatella Della Ratta’s “Shooting a Revolution: Visual Media and Warfare in Syria” shows the importance of political economy in the case of the Arab Spring. This shows that even in grassroots revolutions, money and power play a key factor. However, it is not always simple to understand the political economy behind an organization or movement as many of these don’t have a hierarchical structure, especially in cases where big interests are not at play.
Organizations like Refugees Welcome are intricate and elaborate organizations, that just like any other NGO or IGO, require economic funds to survive and allow their work to flourish. Their reliance on funds makes these organizations subject to having a bias vision of the world which is shown by the parties funding the organization. Therefore, the analysis of the political economy behind the organization becomes vital to understand what direction it is being pushed towards. Political economy refers to the study of the choices or vision created by a given organization in relation to the political visions of the third party financing the organization. When considering political economy relating to Refugees Welcome, we must analyze who the primary economic parties are and what their political views are. To understand if Refugees Welcome’s actions are being pushed by third parties and their donations, it is important to compare the organization’s political views and the way in which the money is raised.
Refugees Welcome was founded by three young people, Golde Ebding, Mareike Geiling, and Jonas Kakoschke. All three of them were recent graduates who had just attained an MA (Master of Arts) degree, and had no direct tie with any corporation, political party or any other sort of institution besides their University.
This lack of ties sends a clear first indication that the organization follows its own politics and does not rely on large donation or partners that would shift the focus away from its main goal. Instead, Refugees Welcome is funded through donations and crowdfunding, in fact it also allows you to donate with bitcoins. These various methods of payment makes its possible individuals so vast that it is hard for one party to shift the organization.
The organization enables the engagement of all kinds of people by offering various ways of donating to the company. In fact, when analyzing how much one can donate to the organization, it is clear and stated on their website that when committing to monthly donations, one can only donate up to 50 euros per month, making sure that it is funded by multiple people and not one party that could exert power on the organization. The combination of micro-funding and their “start-up” attitude give the idea that the foundation is independent and has its own political economy that can be sustained by individuals that are like minded, rather than big companies or lobbies that want something in exchange. This said, the organization was only founded in November, 2014 and therefore not all the details of their finances are available from a third unrelated party.