Civil Society and Good Governance: (Re-) Conceptualizing the Interface
Summary Civil society action is thought to be a prerequisite for good governance, as well as an indicator for it. The assumption of a positive correlation has guided many development interventions. However, considering political synergies, frameworks of accountability and mobilization of communities to claim their entitlements as key elements of how civil society and governance interface, we find this hypothesis to be problematic. Evidence from two contiguous regions in rural north India suggests that where community organizations are assertive, the governance structures and institutions are not necessarily better oriented to their demands. Rather, where such organizations are able to exploit intra-elite conflict and forge alliances with a section of the elite, they are better able to influence service-delivery. However, even this strategy does not help to expand the political spaces available to poor people.
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