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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 12-23

Political Articulation and Accountability in Decentralisation: Theory and Evidence from India


Department of Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 232 Davenport MC-150, 607S, Mathews Ave., Urbana IL, 61801 and Sustainability Science Program, Center for International Development, Kennedy School of Government,Harvard University, 501, Rubenstein Building, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Correspondence Address:
Ashwini Chhatre
Department of Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 232 Davenport MC-150, 607S, Mathews Ave., Urbana IL, 61801 and Sustainability Science Program, Center for International Development, Kennedy School of Government,Harvard University, 501, Rubenstein Building, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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New institutions created through decentralisation policies around the world, notwithstanding the rhetoric, are often lacking in substantive democratic content. New policies for decentralised natural resource man­agement have transferred powers to a range of local authorities, including private associations, customary authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Scholars see such transfers as detrimental to the legitimacy of local democratic institutions, leading to a fragmentation of local authority and dampening prospects for democratic consolidation. In much of this critique, however, there is limited attention to the wider democratic context (or lack thereof) and its effect on local governments. This article develops the concept of political articulation to characterise the relationship between citizens and elected representa­tives, and argues that accountability in decentralisation cannot be conceptualised or analysed separately from the accountability of higher institutions of representation and governance. The empirical analysis of the article uses the experience of a World Bank-funded Ecodevelopment Project in Himachal Pradesh, India, to generate insights into the role of political articulation in analysing decentralisation reforms.


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