Journal Article


Widgets or Watchdogs? Conceptual Explorations in Social Accountability

Published on 1 March 2012

Strengthening ‘social accountability’ is emerging as a key strategy for improving public services and attaining the Millennium Development Goals. Yet current conceptualizations of social accountability have tended to focus on it as ‘mechanisms’ or ‘widgets’, a view which tends to depoliticize the very processes through which poor people make claims. We propose an alternative conceptualization which focuses on disaggregating social accountability actions, and viewing them as part of a long-term ongoing political engagement of social actors with the state. Such a conceptualization can advance understandings of when the poor engage in social accountability and the impact it might have.


Anuradha Joshi

Research Fellow

Peter P. Houtzager

Research Fellow

Publication details

Joshi, A. and Houtzager, P. P.
Public Management Review, volume 14, issue 2


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