Transforming participation?: a comparative study of state and civil society agency within national development processes in Malawi and Ireland.
PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
In the context of growing economic, social and political polarisation between and within countries both North and South, this study addresses the question as to whether new
forms of participatory governance, in the form of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP) process in Malawi, and Social Partnership in Ireland, have the
potential to engage multiple development discourses, and if so, under what conditions.
Developing a theoretical framework to uncover the structures and dynamics underpinning both processes over time, the study highlights the interaction of domestic
and global political cultures within both processes. It is argued that state actors, focused on ‘spinning’ participation to attract foreign investment, while simultaneously contracting civil society ‘partners’ in managing the fallout of the state’s economic globalisation project, are not seeking to engage multiple development discourses. The potential for such transformative participation within both processes therefore rests with
civil society actors responding to the mandates of their constituents.
The study identifies a key enabler in this regard as being ‘communication without’ or public awareness raising, with this enhancing visibility and public debate on both the
developmental outcomes of the respective processes and the agency and actions of actors therein. While both processes are characterised by many similarities, a key difference in the area of communication is identified. While in Ireland, where domestic legacies of a hierarchical, authoritarian political culture facilitate state and civil society actors in disciplining participants within the Irish process and stifling public debate, in Malawi, these national disciplining legacies have been challenged. The study
demonstrates how, in Malawi, global influences, in particular as mediated through global informational networks, have played a significant part in stimulating critical public debate, thereby transforming cultural legacies. These influences have resulted in the dominant organisation within the Malawian process tapping into the diversity of Malawian civic life, thereby raising challenges to its own form of leadership, and potentially transforming participation within its national development process.
||Africa; Malawi; Ireland; North and South; Participatory governance; Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme; PRSP; Civil Society; Participation; Partnership; Globalisation;
Governance; Social Partnership.
||Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
||22 Apr 2009 11:14
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