Title: Empowerment through participation? The effectiveness of participatory methods in clientelist societies
Authors: Willems, Roos # ×
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Expeditions
Series Title: Omertaa vol:1 issue:1 pages:393-402
Abstract: International development NGO's changed their intervention strategies and policies over the past
decades following outsiders' criticisms and internal reflection processes. The traditional top-down approach
made way for a bottom-up approach with a focus on identifying and supporting local initiatives through
participatory methods. Yet when looking closer at the roots of the very concept of participation as well as the way
it is operationalized in a West African socio-cultural context, unexpected findings turn up. Despite formal
structures designed to guarantee the free participation of all individuals to decision making processes, whether at
the national or local level, West-African cultural logic appears to prescribe men and women to comply with the
existing inegalitarian power relations of their communities. This paper argues that concepts used in development
approaches are very much culture-laden and that their meanings tend to change according to context. The
application of participatory methods developed to ensure the empowerment of marginalized groups may lead to
results quite different from those initially intended.
ISSN: 1784-3308
VABB publication type: VABB-1
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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