Reading the Local Context: A Causal Chain Approach to Social Accountability
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There is a general consensus that ‘context’ matters for development outcomes, yet we have little understanding of how exactly ‘context’ affects outcomes. This paper focuses on the question of ‘context’ in social accountability 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 social accountability initiatives are successful, even within otherwise broadly similar national contexts. The paper 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 reorganized 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.