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Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance

Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance

Self-organization and Participation in Public Governance

Edited by Jurian Edelenbos and Ingmar van Meerkerk

In many countries, government and society have undergone a major shift in recent years, now tending toward ‘smaller government’ and ‘bigger society’. This development has lent increased meaning to the notion of interactive governance, a concept that this book takes not as a normative ideal but as an empirical phenomenon that needs constant critical scrutiny, reflection and embedding in modern societies.

Chapter 8: Making good citizens: power and empowerment in community development programmes in Nepal

Tina Søndergård Madsen and Peter Triantafillou

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance


Søndergård Madsen and Triantafillou stress the importance of how power and empowerment take shape in interactive governance. In Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world, a number of empowerment programmes and self-help community groups have sprung up during the past decade. Søndergård Madsen and Triantafillou examine how and with what political effects empowerment was linked to poverty alleviation in Nepal through the Local Governance and Community Development Programme (LGCDP). They argue that the alleviation of poverty was not an immediate, but rather a long-term, objective of the programme. Building on Foucault’s analytics of power and freedom, they critically reflect on the political implications of empowerment-based poverty alleviation for the strategies that the poor can legitimately adopt in order to improve their economic situation. The authors argue that the program is based on a strong advanced liberal rationale, which favours certain forms of participation and citizenship over other forms thus limiting the individual’s freedom by excluding various practices of action and protest.

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