How does citizen activism win changes in national policy? Which factors help to make myriad efforts by diverse actors add up to reform? What is needed to overcome setbacks, and to consolidate the smaller victories?
These questions need answers. Aid agencies have invested heavily in supporting civil society organizations as change agents in fledgling and established democracies alike. Evidence gathered by donors, NGOs and academics demonstrates how advocacy and campaigning can reconfigure power relations and transform governance structures at the local and global levels. In the rush to go global or stay local, however, the national policy sphere was recently neglected. Today, there is growing recognition of the key role of champions of change inside national governments, and the potential of their engagement with citizen activists outside. These advances demand a better understanding of how national and local actors can combine approaches to simultaneously work the levers of change, and how their successes relate to actors and institutions at the international level.
This book brings together eight studies of successful cases of citizen activism for national policy changes in South Africa, Morocco, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Turkey, India and the Philippines. They detail the dynamics and strategies that have led to the introduction, change or effective implementation of policies responding to a range of rights deficits. Drawing on influential social science theory about how political and social change occurs, the book brings new empirical insights to bear on it, both challenging and enriching current understandings.
John Gaventa is a Research Professor and Fellow in the Participation, Power and Social Change Team at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. A political sociologist by training, he has written widely on issues of power, citizen action, participation and democracy, including the award winning Power and Powerlessness in an Appalachian Valley (1980) and Global Citizen Action (co-editor, 2001). He also has been active with a number of NGOs and civil society organisations internationally, including the Highlander Centre in the United States and Oxfam in the UK. He is the director of the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability. Rosemary McGee is a Research Fellow in the Participation, Power and Social Change Team at the Institute of Development Studies since 1999. She has extensive work experience in policy and programme posts in the international development NGO sector. Her research and teaching focus in particular on forms of citizen participation in decision-making, governance and rights-claiming processes; and on the international aid system, both official and non-governmental. Her doctoral research was conducted in a violence-torn region of Colombia, as was much of her NGO work, and she continues to work closely on that country as well as others in Latin America and Africa.