Drawing on case studies from the Citizenship Development Research Centre, this Synthesis Paper contends that mechanisms aimed at enhancing citizen engagement need to be contextualised in the states of citizenship in which they are applied. It calls for more attention to be focused on understanding trajectories of citizenship experience and practice in particular kinds of states. It suggests that whilst efforts have been made by donors to get to grips with history and context – such as DFID’s Drivers of Change analyses or Sida’s Power Studies – less attention has been given to exploring the implications of the dissonance between the normative dimensions of global narratives of participation and accountability, and the lived experience of civic engagement and the empirical realities of ‘civil society’ in diverse kinds of states.
A. Cornwall, S. Robins and B. Von Lieres. States of Citizenship: Contexts and Cultures of Public Engagement and Citizen Action. IDS Working Paper No. 363. Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK (2011) 35 pp. ISBN 978 1 85864 980 3