Accountability Through Public Opinion: From Inertia to Public Action

Abstract

“Accountability” has become a buzzword in international development. Development actors appear to delight in announcing their intention to “promote accountability”—but it is often unclear what accountability is and how it can be promoted. This book addresses some questions that are crucial to understanding accountability and for understanding why accountability is important to improve the effectiveness of development aid.

The main argument of this book is that accountability is a matter of public opinion. Governments will only be accountable if there are incentives for them to do so—and only an active and critical public will change the incentives of government officials to make them responsive to citizens’ demands. Accountability without public opinion is a technocratic, but not an effective solution.

In this book, more than 30 accountability practitioners and thinkers discuss the concept and its structural conditions; the relationship between accountability, information, and the media; the role of deliberation to promote accountability; and mechanisms and tools to mobilize public opinion. A number of case studies from around the world illustrate the main argument of the book: Public opinion matters and an active and critical public is the surest means to achieve accountability that will benefit the citizens in developing countries.

Citation

Sina Odugbemi and Taeku Lee (Editors). Accountability Through Public Opinion: From Inertia to Public Action. World Bank, May (2011) ISBN 978-0-8213-8505-0

Accountability Through Public Opinion: From Inertia to Public Action

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