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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The idea of meeting government failures with social accountability reforms has gained enormous traction. This chapter surveys the existing empirical and theoretical accounts of institutional arrangements designed to empower citizens to hold incumbents and government officials accountable, with a focus on the potential for such initiatives to improve QoG. Empirically, the evidence reviewed suggests that social accountability initiatives are less transformative than hoped, often more effective for detecting leakage than rectifying problems or holding officials to account. The chapter focuses theoretically on what SAIs entail for participants in terms of effort, coordination with others, and expected gains, as well as how contextual conditions affect the functioning of SAIs. While existing research examines contextual conditions, we offer theoretical arguments and empirics from the areas of political economy and institutionalism suggesting that context, and in particular aspects of state capacity, can affect participants’ priors, and thus SAIs success, in ways that warrants further investigation.

Keywords: social accountability, corruption, elite capture, collective action, participation, participatory budgeting

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