Aug 7, 2012
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

The Danger of Disillusionment

My colleague, Andrea, is currently traveling without regular access to the Internet, but wrote the following post for the blog.

Moving further with our discussion of crime in Mozambique (I talked about it here and here), it is interesting to note that inequality is the first driver of the problem mentioned in the study conducted by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. Confirming our initial instincts, the research states that “a study conducted by the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane and the World Bank suggests that poverty reduction is slowing down and inequality is becoming a greater concern”, and that the situation is linked to an increase in violence and crime.

They quote another study, by Emernegildo Mulhovo, of the Mozambican Centre for Civil Society Learning and Capacity Building, that shows a very sad relation between a democratic turn and insatisfaction in Mozambique. It says that “although the establishment of a liberal democracy in Mozambique resulted in the multiplication of democratic institutions and room for democratic participation of citizens in development processes, the standards of living of the population are
worsening and consequently creating an atmosphere of dissatisfaction and frustration”.

It is not, of course, that a democratic opening in the country caused the worsening of the living standards. But it did offer a greater measure of comparison and more opportunities for frustration as those new spaces of participation fail to deliver on their hopes.

False opening is a dangerous thing. I see a lot of formal paths to participation and involvement, and almost no chance of real change, be in the power structure, be it in the economic structure (unless of course you want to join the winners).

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1 Comment

  • Josh, In my work in Brazil, on participatory budgeting more specifically, it’s very clear that if participatory openings do not bring rather immediate and clear benefits to participants, then people rationally drop out. Once they drop out, the word gets around, and it’s extremely difficult to call people out for the next round of what they perceive will be more of the same.

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Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

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