Research Handbook on Democracy and Development
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Research Handbook on Democracy and Development

Edited by Gordon Crawford and Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai

Exploring and updating the controversial debates about the relationship between democracy and development, this Research Handbook provides clarification on the complex and nuanced interlinkages between political regime type and socio-economic development. Distinguished scholars examine a broad range of issues from multidisciplinary perspectives across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
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Chapter 27: Representation, citizenship and the public domain: choice and recognition in natural resource decentralization

Jesse Ribot


‘Decentralization’ interventions shape local democracy via the powers they transfer and the local institutions they transfer them to. Yet intervening agencies (government and non-government) regularly choose to transfer power to a wide range of local institutions, including private bodies, customary authorities and NGOs. Recognition of these ‘parallel’ local institutions means that local governments are being deprived of public powers and face competition for legitimacy. This article provides a framework for analyzing how decentralization interventions foster local democratic consolidation or result in fragmented forms of authority and belonging. It applies the frame to explore the effects of institutional choices and recognition by governments, international development agencies and large NGOs on three dimensions of democracy: 1) representation, 2) citizenship and 3) the public domain.

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