Reading the Local Context: A Causal Chain Approach to Social Accountability

Volume 45 Number 5
Published: January 21, 2016
There is a general consensus that ‘context’ matters for development outcomes, yet we have little understanding of how exactly ‘context’ affects outcomes. This article focuses on the question of ‘context’ in social accountability (SA) initiatives by separating macro‐ and micro‐contextual factors. On the macro side (country level), accountability processes need to take into account broad factors such as national histories of citizen–state engagement. On the micro side, local factors can drive the extent to which SA initiatives are successful, even within otherwise broadly similar national contexts. The article outlines the basic components of accountability and proposes a ‘causal chain'strategy to better understand the micro‐context. This would allow existing evidence to be reorganised to assess the promise of existing and new initiatives by deconstructing the various mini‐causal pathways (i.e. in the micro‐context) and understanding the contextual conditions that make them work.


  • Governance
  • Social Accountability
From Issue: Vol. 45 No. 5 (2014) | Localising Governance