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Transparency and mistrust: who or what should be made transparent?

Roelofs, Portia (2019) Transparency and mistrust: who or what should be made transparent? Governance, 32 (3). pp. 565-580. ISSN 0952-1895

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Identification Number: 10.1111/gove.12402


It is increasingly recognized in public administration that the relationship between trust and transparency is not straightforward. Recently, right-wing populists have risen to power, rejecting transparency requirements based on documents while claiming that they “hide nothing.” Clearly, existing scholarly conceptualizations are insufficient for understanding how transparency operates as a value in real-world political contestation. An analysis of state- and national-level politics in Nigeria reveals that, while always retaining a core informational component, there are multiple competing conceptions of transparency. Popular demands for transparency express a belief that not only should data be made transparent, but also the social networks in which politicians are embedded. “Transparency in people” can clash with more traditional, technocratic transparency practices centered on data. By rethinking who or what should be made transparent—data, things, or people—this article offers fresh theoretical insights on the complex politics of transparency and trust.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2019 09:50
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:31
Funders: Economic & Social Research Council

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