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Accueil du site → Doctorat → États-Unis → 1996 → Participation and democracy at the grassroots : A study of development associations in rural Senegal

Indiana University (1996)

Participation and democracy at the grassroots : A study of development associations in rural Senegal

Patterson, Amy S..

Titre : Participation and democracy at the grassroots : A study of development associations in rural Senegal

Auteur : Patterson, Amy S..

Etablissement de soutenance : Indiana University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1996

Résumé
International donors, African citizens, and Western governments have heralded the liberalization of many autocratic regimes in contemporary Africa. Some scholars, however, argue that the hope for achieving long-term democratization in Africa lies not in formal constitutional-level reforms, but in civil society. Civil society is the collectivity of citizens’ organizations such as women’s groups and labor unions that are at least partially autonomous from state institutions. Adherents to this approach claim that because associations in civil society are inclusive and their decision making processes are democratic, they can teach their members the values needed to sustain national democracy. Though this literature has been well received, few studies have tested the core assumption that local associations make decisions democratically. The dissertation attempts to fill the void by investigating development organizations in rural Senegal. How democratic are local associations ? What factors shape or constrain democratic practices in grassroots organizations ? This research is situated in two bodies of political science literature : democratic theory and civil society studies. Democratic theorists focus on values such as cooperation and tolerance that are needed for a democratic system in which all citizens can participate and hold their leaders accountable. Civil society studies concentrate on the institutions in society that can foster these democratic values. The dissertation tests these assertions and demonstrates that cultural values, class cleavages, gender stratification, and the interactions that local associations have with state and international actors often constrain democracy. However, power and influence in local associations are not always straight-forward. Private means of participation and political influence often provide elements of democracy to civil society associations.

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