The Everyday Lives of Policies and People
Edited by Norman Long, Jingzhong Ye and Yihuan Wang
Chapter 14: ‘Accountability’ in Contemporary Rural China: Yu Lu Village Case Study
14. ‘Accountability’ in contemporary rural China: Yu Lu Village case study Solange Guo Chatelard This chapter will present a theoretical argument on the increasingly popular concept of ‘accountability’, together with a specific local case study of development policy implementation in contemporary rural China. According to Isunza Vera, accountability has three primary functions: informative, explanatory and enforcing. In other words, accountability is a three-dimensional process whereby responsible political actors have to enumerate their actions, justify them, and finally be in a position where they may be sanctioned for these actions (Isunza Vera 2003). As a conventional concept developed and debated within western social sciences, accountability may be problematic as an effective analytical tool to understand contemporary Chinese social reality. This is primarily due to the implied semantic field of possible complementary concepts that can be associated with ‘accountability’ which do not exist per se in Chinese political culture (that is, sovereign citizenship, individual and collective ‘rights’, political transparency, political participation, rational contracts or agreements, and so on), although there have been efforts to translate these concepts into the modern Chinese language.1 Together with other buzzwords like ‘good governance’, ‘transparency’ and ‘civil society’, ‘accountability’ is often used in the discourse on policy implementation and development work by government officials, non-governmental officers (NGO) workers and development practitioners. Within these discourses of social policy and implementation, the more fundamental question of the philosophical and theoretical groundings of such a concept is usually ignored. This chapter does not deal in particular with the ‘western’ concept...
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