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Relational Accountability

Complexities of Structural Injustice

By (author) Joy Moncrieffe
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Zed Books Ltd, London, United Kingdom
Published: 13th Oct 2011
Dimensions: w 138mm h 216mm d 19mm
Weight: 263g
ISBN-10: 1848134665
ISBN-13: 9781848134669
Barcode No: 9781848134669
In this insightful new book, Moncrieffe argues that the traditionally narrow interpretation of accountability obscures relationships, power dynamics, structures, processes and complexities. The relational view, in contrast, seeks to understand the ways in which people perform in their roles as social actors, and how the quality of relationships influences the character of accountability. This book will provide a grounded theoretical background to accountability, using vivid case evidence to emphasize the significance of relational approaches to accountability using empirical data (from Jamaica, Haiti, Ethiopia and Uganda). Ultimately arguing that accountability is much more than a managerial concept; rather, it is deeply social and political. The result is a unique, coherent, perspective that will both explain and 'debunk' this central developmental concept.

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'Joy Moncrieffe takes accountability out of its technical and theoretical frame and shows that power structures shape inequalities in accountability. Her vivid case studies of how these inequalities affects the life chances of children make this a compelling read.' - Rosalind Eyben, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

''Accountability' is the one of latest buzzwords for those concerned with development and democracy alike. Yet, as Moncrieffe reminds us, it is a contentious and illusive concept, even in western democratic history. Taking off from this history, she draws upon her own deeply-grounded work in Jamaica and Uganda, as well as from other experiences and thinkers in the global south, to argue that accountability is rooted in relations of power, history and culture - relations which are not easily subject to quick-fix solutions which focus on procedural or bureaucratic reform alone. Clearly written, constantly juxtaposing conceptual argument with local realities, this book will become a classic in the rapidly emerging field of citizenship and accountability studies.' - John Gaventa, Director, Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability, Institute of Development Studies

'This book brings a new and original dimension to the burgeoning literature on citizenship, democracy and accountability. Where the mainstream has focused on the institutional and procedural aspects of accountability, this volume emphasises the critical importance of social relations in shaping this process. This focus on the relational underscores the need for a more human and society-centred approach to accountability if it is to advance social and democratic justice.' - Prof. Chris Tapscott, Dean, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability

' In contemporary times the centrality of accountability in the 'good governance' agenda of donors and national governments is undeniable. This book joins an emerging and growing body of literature that demonstrates that accountability cannot be reduced to a technical project of state reform, and that is a political process. Using both theoretical arguments and rigorous empirical analysis the author shows that accountability processes cannot be separated from the unequal power relationships that people live and experience in their everyday lives. She argues that relational approaches supply a human lens to interpretations of accountability, and that only by understanding the roots of unequal citizenships can it be feasible to build more equitable relations of accountability. In other words, relational approaches are concerned with the 'underbelly of societies and political institutions', and hence able to recommend context specific action and intervention for rectifying deep rooted and culturally legitimized injustices. In sum, it is a valuable contribution to our understanding of how poor people worldwide struggle to hold the powerful to account.' - Simeen Mahmud, Lead Researcher, BRAC Development Institute, BRAC University, Dhaka