Hybrid Public Action

Edited by: Peter K. Spink, Naomi Hossain and Nina J. Best

January 2009
Volume 40 Number 6

Two previously independent debates in international circles are now coming closer together: development (poverty reduction, economic progress, etc) and human rights (violations of rights and refugee protection). Totally separate during the 1950s-1980s, moving in parallel in different issue networks and communities with different publications, conferences, organisations or departments, they are increasingly found together for both substantive and tactical reasons.

The same can be said for the themes that stimulated the research programme whose results are being presented in this IDS Bulletin: decentralisation, local government, participation and governance on the one hand, and poverty and inequality on the other. It has been assumed that as societies get better at being broader and open so services improve and things will get better for those in poverty. However, the two themes have followed their own routes and it is only now, with concerns about accountability and transparency, that the two have bumped into each other.

The current study is a continuation of previous work by LogoLink, that advances understanding of the changing roles of social actors and their strategies in promoting local democratic environments that contribute to reducing poverty and exclusion. It draws on specially commissioned studies that look at two central dimensions: key actors, processes/strategies and the relationship between them. At a global level, the rationale for this research draws on discussions with donors and international actors about the impacts of participation on poverty reduction and social inclusion and where there is a general consensus that top-down development policymaking and implementation has fallen short of addressing the needs of the poor.