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Participatory Development in the Presence of Endogenous Community Imperfections


  • J-P. Platteau
  • A. Abraham


The participatory or decentralised approach to development is now favoured by most bilateral and multilateral aid organisations. At the root of this approach lies the belief that rural communities can be an effective channel of development if they receive a genuine delegation of powers and responsibilities. This article argues that there unfortunately exists a widespread tendency to downplay the community imperfections that plague many rural societies while simultaneously stressing market and state failures. In fact, such imperfections, as illustrated in the case of lineage-based societies of Africa, increase as development proceeds by way of expanding economic opportunities, growing resource scarcity, as well as rising aspiration and education levels. Under these circumstances, any early implementation of the approach runs a high risk of causing considerable disillusionment, as well as undue appropriation, by local elites operating within a logic of patronage, of the resources channelled through rural communities in this way.

Suggested Citation

  • J-P. Platteau & A. Abraham, 2002. "Participatory Development in the Presence of Endogenous Community Imperfections," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(2), pages 104-136.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:39:y:2002:i:2:p:104-136
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380412331322771

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