E-discussion on Informal Authorities in Local Governance

Published on 12 December 2016

There is a growing scholarly and policy awareness of the fact that public authority is rarely exercised only by the state. In fact, a host of actors – some visible and recognised, others invisible and less obvious – exercise public authority within communities. Some evidence suggests that the authority exercised by such actors may be stronger within communities that lie further away from the centres of state power, both in terms of distance (remote communities) and in terms of ideology and power structures (minority groups, militant groups, marginalised classes), though this is not always the case. These actors may play an important role in local governance, especially in strengthening citizen participation, encouraging inclusive decision-making and improving service delivery.

However, our understanding of the role that such ‘informal’ actors play is fairly limited, and our discomfort with their inclusion in development interventions is often fairly high. Furthermore, our ability to usefully organise such actors and institutions into analytically relevant typologies is even more limited. To address this, SDC and IDS organised an e-discussion to complement an on-going learning project on mapping informal authorities and their role in local democracy.

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published by
Mohmand, S.K. and Chaudhry, P.


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