Governance, Social Accountability and the Civil Society

This paper reviews the current literature on social accountability as a means to achieve good governance and increased public participation for improved public service delivery. After a brief discussion on concept and tools of social accountability, this paper illustrates that such innovations have led to improvements in the performance of state agencies and actors in varying contexts across the developing countries. Increased donor-led efforts to converge good governance agendas and neo-liberal economics tend to overlook politics that is central to struggles for social accountability. The complete faith of the neo-liberal development paradigm in market-friendliness, devolution, and working through NGOs often disregards politics within which such policies have to operate and on which they are ultimately dependent. The overarching issues of poverty and redistribution should caution development practitioners that such innovations and policy transfer[s] pertaining to social accountability might not become blunt instruments of 'traveled formalism'