Repertoires of Citizen Action in Hybrid Settings
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In recent years, a growing literature has emerged analysing how organized citizen action can achieve more accountable and inclusive governance mostly focused on relatively open, democratic or more stable contexts, often in western democracies. Yet only a small proportion of the world’s population lives in such settings, authoritarianism is growing and democratic spaces are closing globally. This paper explores how hybrid political settings - those which have both democratic and non-democratic features, fragmented authority, and closing civic space - affect strategies of citizen action. The paper builds on work by Tilly and Tarrow on repertoires of contention, drawing from a large number of single and comparative case studies of citizen action, mainly from Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Based on these, the paper develops a typology of eight repertoires of citizen action through which citizens may express their grievances and attempt to hold authorities to account. The literature suggests that there may be little space for contentious social and political action in closed or authoritarian settings. This article finds, however, that a rich and diverse tapestry of citizen action may be seen in the “hybrid” settings (those which have both democratic and non-democratic features). Shaped by political opportunities as well as by key “trigger” events, these repertoires will vary according to their visibility and their level of “ruli-ness” and may shift or re-enforce one another over time, contributing to building blocks for broader accountability and democratic governance. Policy and donor interventions aimed at supporting citizen-led action for accountability have often focused on the most visible and “ruly” of these strategies. However, we find that the more hidden or more unruly forms of action are important in and of themselves and help to create building blocks for broader changes. For those who are interested in supporting citizen-led accountability, mapping these broader repertories will be important to understand the full range of accountability strategies available, going beyond more commonly understood approaches.