Journal Article


Do Rights Work? Law, Activism, and the Employment Guarantee Scheme of Local Governance

Published on 1 April 2010

Recent, “rights-based approaches” offer a promising route for bringing about social change. However, we have little experience with state-provided legally enforceable socio-economic rights. This paper examines one of the few examples of a legally granted socio-economic right—a limited “right to work”—that has existed in one state of India for over 25 years in the form of the Employment Guarantee Scheme. The paper argues that legal underpinnings do not automatically enable the poor to obtain rights; however, legal rights have important indirect effects for pro-poor activist organizations including mobilizing membership, protecting activists from arbitrary action, and shifting public discourse.


Anuradha Joshi

Research Fellow

Publication details

Joshi, A.
World Development, volume 38, issue 4


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