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TitleTransforming Participation?: The Politics of Development in Malawi and Ireland (Rethinking International Development)
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Total Pages264
Table of Contents
List of Tables
Preface and Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Participation and Development – Beyond the Impasse?
	Participation contested
	Malawi's PRSP/MGDS and Ireland's Social Partnership
	Methodological approach
	The arrangement of the book
Part I: Participation in Context
	1 Globalisation, Governance and Participation
		State legitimacy and the network state
		States, power and civil society
		Manufacturing civil society
		Working with, not for: Conscientisation and organic leadership
	2 Malawi and Ireland in a Globalised World
		Development paradigms and pathways
		Governance legacies
		Citizens or subjects?: Political culture
	3 Analysing Participation: A Theoretical Framework of Analysis
		Institutional frameworks
		Power and discourse
		Communication and decision-making
		Representation and democracy
Part II: Participation in Practice
	4 The Dynamics of Participation in Malawi and Ireland
		Institutional design: Differential access
		Internalising discourses: Excluding members
		Communication within: Restricting expression
		Communication without: The power of public debate
		Consensus decision-making: True or false?
		Conclusion: Enablers and constraints to transformative participation
	5 The State and Participation in Malawi and Ireland
		Layering governance: State participation
		Spinning participation: Globalised states and 'invisible' governments
		Contracting participation: Securing domestic legitimacy
		Conclusion: Spinning participation, contracting partners, diluting democracy?
	6 Civil Society and Participation in Malawi and Ireland
		Transforming participation: Initial engagement
		Disciplining participation: Ongoing engagement
		Transforming participation?: MEJN as organic leader?
		Conclusion: Janus-headed NGOs and transformative participation
Part III: Transforming Participation?: Conclusion
	7 Transforming Participation?: The Politics of Development in Malawi and Ireland
		Transforming participation: Some practical lessons
		Transforming participation: Some conceptual lessons
		Transforming participation, choosing our path
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Transforming Participation?

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The Dynamics of Participation 115

difficult to get practical things. You could get a lot of words, and
there was a lot of words, it was quite hard to get actions.

(CV pillar member)

Yet another community and voluntary pillar member underscores the
need to link issues and frameworks with the dominant framework.

You need to know what you want. You need to know how it fits
in .… Because there’s all a lot of talk in our stuff which is all about
moral right and all this sort of stuff, and all that’s great … [but] It’s
where you think your issue fits in, what you want to say about it,
what specifically you want to deliver.

(CV pillar member)

Within the Malawian PRSP, with a focus clearly on ‘technical’ program-
matic issues within narrowly defined thematic groups, there was clearly
little leeway afforded for wider discussions. This appears to have been
understood and accepted by all participants as time wore on. This is
illustrated repeatedly – for example, in the Oxfam representative’s view
that civil society needed time to develop capacity and input meaning-
fully; the view of a MEJN member that ‘organised’ groups which knew
their theme and prepared papers in advance were most successful; the
view of MEJN’s Director that when government officials saw the ‘cali-
bre’ of MEJN’s representatives the climate changed and the government
started to listen; and many participants’ need for ‘competent’ chairs for
the TWGs so that they might ‘deliver’. When talking of interventions
on the MGDS, MEJN’s Director highlights the organisation’s sensitivity
to how issues should be framed within the dominant discourse.

[Y]ou should also understand that the top political leadership is
not the type of leadership that would try to recognise the language
of poverty reduction. We Malawians should talk more of wealth
creation, income generation and economic growth, the positives, not
poverty reduction, negative type of language.

(Director of MEJN)

Adopting discourses: From transformative frameworks
to problem-solving

Many participating groups in both processes therefore appear to
have adopted prevailing discourses in an effort to bring their issues
onto the agenda. It appears that the focus turned to concrete issues,

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116 Transforming Participation?

rather than seeking to influence the broader frameworks around
them. The strategy of one community and voluntary pillar member
illustrates this.

We had been arguing that the economic and the social are two sides
of the one coin .… Now I wouldn’t believe myself that the social
should be funded on the basis that it helps the economic. But if that’s
what they require to believe to drive it, and it actually happens to be
true, then I don’t mind why they do the right thing even if it is for
the wrong reason.

(CV pillar member)

In Malawi this also appears to have been the case, where participants
moved to adopt the discourse apparently required in order to attain
credibility within the process and get their issues on the table.

And you see government couldn’t also just take anything. They
looked at ‘who is making a better presentation, who has got better
issues?’. So they were taking those issues.

(PRSP participant)

MEJN, consistently highlighting the issue of capacity, is confident that
it was this technical capacity that eventually prised open the door for
them within the PRSP process, a door which has remained ajar, if not
fully open, within the MGDS.

I think the calibre of people we featured in the TWGs, but also in
the drafting, the technical drafting team of the PRSP, was calibre
that wouldn’t be doubted, by the government, the donors, and
everybody else. It wasn’t just people that would just sit down and
watch people discussing technical issues. So that instilled a lot of
confidence on the part of government. They said ‘I think we can listen
to the civil society.’

(MEJN Director)

Again, one of the new community and voluntary pillar members within
Ireland’s Social Partnership illustrates its learning in terms of adopting
discourses for the purposes of having their inputs taken on board.

I think we have to learn a language of being able to express that in
terms of an overall public policy, economic and social policy context.

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246 Index

pluralism 75, 83–4, 106
political culture see also

authoritarianism, ‘big man
politics’, clientelism

changes in 67–8
implications for participatory

governance 65–7
political representation see

popular agency see agency
poverty see inequality

capillarity of 33, 75
and consensus 79, 84, 128–30,

disciplinary 32–4
and discourse 74–7
forms of power 74–5
Foucault 75–7
Gramsci 31–2
and knowledge 76–7
Lukes 75
sharing 29–30

PPF (Programme for Prosperity and
Fairness) 97, 100, 151

PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy

critiques 12–13
origins 10
principles 11

PRSP in Malawi
background to 11–12
behind the doors of 93–135
benefits of involvement in

civil society agency in 165–6,

166–8, 172–3, 173–7, 193–200,

communications within and
without 120–8

conditions for transforming
participation in, see argument

decision-making in 128–32
differential access to 97–9
discourses in 107–20
donor involvement in 141–4
exclusion from 112–13, 175–7
institutions of (formal and

informal) 94–9, 104–6

problems due to involvement
in 174–7

state agency in 136–64, 162–4
problem-solving 117–20

capacity issues 115–17
foreclosing development

alternatives 108–9, 118–19
public sphere 82–3

relations, political 199, 216
representation 85–8

and legitimacy 87–8
theories of 86–7
within PRSP and Social

Partnership 168–9, 172, 175,
179–80, 188–90, 195–6, 201–2

Young 85–7

Schuurman, Frans 1
Singer, Hans 1
social actors

exclusion of 111–14, 160–1,
175–7, 182–3, 185–6

representation of see representation
Social partnership

background to 13–14
behind the doors of 93–135
benefits of involvement in

civil society agency in 165–6,

168–70, 172–3, 177–90,

communications within and
without 120–8

conditions for transforming
participation in see argument

critiques of 14–15
decision making in 128–32
differential access to 97–9
discourses in 107–20
exclusion from 113–14, 160–1,

182–3, 185
external influences on 142–3,

institutions of (formal and

informal) 94–9, 104–6
problems due to involvement

in 182–3, 184, 186–7
state agency in 136–64, 162–4

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Index 247

Social Partnership Scheme (funding
to social partners) 161, 211,

social spaces see Lefebvre, Henri
Sørenson, Eva 3, 9, 10, 74, 82, 120

agency within PRSP and Social
Partnership 136–64, 162–4,

globalising ix–x, 22–3, 25,

legitimacy 22–4, 25–6, 31–2
network 25–6
and participation 26–8 see also

policy 150–1
power 29–30, 31–4, 216–17
relationship with civil society/

‘partnership state’ 26–8
sovereignty 22–3
social control 31–4
welfare 23–4, 26–8

Structural adjustment 14, 28, 36, 55
Sustaining Progress 97, 129, 132,

145, 188

Towards 2016 97, 145, 158–9, 161
Transformation, of participation

see also argument
conditions for 133–5
obstacles to 133–5

Tyranny, of participation 7–8

UNDP (United Nations Development
Programme) 1, 23, 24, 56

wealth inequalities see inequality
Weber, Heliose 12, 51, 208
welfare state 23–4, 26–8
White Paper Supporting Voluntary

Activity 27
Whyte, JH 59, 62
women see gender
World Bank

PRSP involvement 11, 95–6,

PRSP Sourcebook 11, 107
Voices of the Poor report 194

Young, Iris Marion 74, 76, 79–82,
85–7, 164

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