Ribot, Jesse C., Chhatre, Ashwini and Lankina, Tomila
Introduction: institutional choice and recognition in the formation and consolidation of local democracy.
Conservation and society, 6
What are the democracy effects of 'decentralisation' reforms and projects? Most developing countries have launched decentralisation reforms for the purpose of improving service delivery, local development and management. In these reforms and projects, however, governments, international development agencies and large non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are transferring power to a wide range of local institutions, including private bodies, customary authorities and NGOs. Recognition of these other local institutions means that fledgling local governments are receiving few public powers and face competition for legitimacy. Under what conditions is the new plurality of approaches and local interlocutors fostering local democratic consolidation or resulting in fragmented forms of authority and belonging? Through case studies in Benin, Guatemala, India, Malawi, Russia, Senegal and South Africa, this issue explores the effects of institutional choices and recognition by governments, international development agencies and large NGOs on three dimensions of democracy: 1) representation, 2) citizenship and 3) the public domain. This article outlines an approach to the politics of institutional choice and recognition while drawing out findings from the articles in this issue.
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