The project’s central research question is: to what extent do initiatives to make local governance more participatory enhance poor people's opportunities for political empowerment?
Looking at West Bengal and Kerala, Indian States internationally recognised for innovation in decentralised governance, it examines poor people's use of the formal opportunities they have for participation within the local state. This ‘invited participation’ is examined within the context of the social relations reproducing poverty and marginalisation, and informal structures of authority and power, both of which reshape governance reforms away from their intended practice.
Through this grounded comparative study, it provides wider lessons about the opportunities and limitations for building poor people’s political empowerment and substantive citizenship through programmes of governance reform.
Williams, G; Nanddigama, S; Thampi, B.; Bhattacharyya, D.; Narayana, D. Embedding poor people’s voices in local governance: participation and political empowerment in India. End of Grant Report. (2011) 8 pp.