Widgets or Watchdogs? Conceptual Explorations in Social Accountability

  • Posted on: 3 December 2012
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)
TitleWidgets or Watchdogs? Conceptual Explorations in Social Accountability
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsJoshi A, Houtzager PP

Strengthening ‘social accountability’ is emer- ging as a key strategy for improving public services and attaining the Millennium Devel- opment Goals. Yet current conceptualizations of social accountability have tended to focus on it as ‘mechanisms’ or ‘widgets’, a view which tends to depoliticize the very processes through which poor people make claims. We propose an alternative conceptualization which focuses on disaggregating social accountability actions, and viewing them as part of a long-term ongoing political engage- ment of social actors with the state. Such a conceptualization can advance understand- ings of when the poor engage in social accountability and the impact it might have.



Includes the curious claim 'accountability also presumes opacity - that all decisions that are taken will not be transparent'. (Within the framing that 'accountability is a means of restraining power')

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