Mediated Citizenship: The Informal Politics of Speaking for Citizens in the Global South
The book is now available for purchase online.
Bettina von Lieres and Laurence Piper
CORD’s first publication on the topic of Mediated Citizenship sets out to answer what appears to be a deceptively simple question: How do poor and marginalized citizens engage the state in the Global South? Drawing on twelve case studies from around the world, this book explore the politics of ‘mediated citizenship’ in which citizens are represented to the state through third-party intermediaries who ‘speak for’ the people they represent. These intermediaries include political parties, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, social movements, armed non-state actors, networks or individuals. Collectively, the cases show that mediation is both widely practiced and multi-directional in relations between states and key groups of citizens in the Global South. Furthermore, they show how mediated forms of representation may have an important role to play in deepening democracy in the Global South.
For more information about this book, please see the publisher’s website.
Preview Book Abstracts and Early-Draft Chapters
The Crucial Role of Mediators in Relations Between States and Citizens
Section One: Mediating the City
Drawing on the example of South African National Civic Organisation leaders from Imizamo Yethu, this chapter examines four challenges that confront leaders in representing the community. These challenges create a set of contradictory popular, party, state and personal demands such that SANCO leaders must demonstrate efficacy in service delivery from a local government ruled by the national opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, without compromising their standing with both allied organisations and the wider community in an African National Congress dominated area. Further, leaders must resist the temptation to take (too much) personal advantage of service delivery success. In this case, the skilful practice of ‘double dealing’ is extremely difficult to achieve. The outcome is that effective leadership of the Imizamo Yethu community requires the leader to be a mediator: neither simply of the society or the state but located between them as a (largely) honest broker.
By: Shylashri Shankar
The tussle over Hyderabad’s Charminar Pedestrianization project between marginalized and poor groups and the municipal authorities highlights a context where the fragmentary nature of the state’s political authority has limited its monopoly power, but where the citizens are neither fully empowered nor completely helpless. In brief, notions of empowerment and weakness do not capture the range of negotiations between citizens and the state in independent India. Indeed, the distribution of power between the state and citizens is less unequal than what is generally presumed, and the forms of negotiation (slogan shouting, disregard for laws, use of political party mediators, and traders associations) have deeper antecedents in history rather than being simply a response to weakness in democratic representation. The picture that emerges is messy but there are clear links with history and with democracy that complicate narratives about the processes by which active citizenship can emerge in post-colonial India.
By: Bettina von Lieres
This paper examines the politics of citizen participation in Angola, a fragile political context marked by state centralisation and weak civil society mobilisation. The chapter first examines how emerging forms of ‘civic-educative’ mediation by non-state actors play an important, if underestimated, role in enhancing marginalized groups’ claim-making capacities. While these, in and of themselves, do not necessarily lead to greater state responsiveness in Angola, they nonetheless play an important role in empowering marginalised communities to demand recognition as citizens. The paper then shows how these ‘second-tier’ democratic outcomes such as greater rights awareness are crucial for the construction of political society and the building of a state-society ‘social contract’ in Angola. The chapter ends with a wider reflection on the challenges of building state responsiveness through citizen participation in the global South.
By: Joanna Wheeler
This chapter focuses on the specific mediators within favelas (informal settlements) in Rio de Janeiro, examining the types of mediation that occur, and how these mediators affect people’s lives within a context of violence. This chapter will describe these mediators and explore their roles in relation to citizenship, drawing on participatory action research conducted in two favelas (Quitungo and Guaporé, and Morro dos Prazeres/Fogueteiro) from 2006 to 2009. It will trace several examples of how people are able (or not able) to act as citizens and attempt to claim their rights, the ways that their rights are mediated by armed actors, and how the state can respond to these claims given the influence of mediators. Mediation contributes to fragmentation of citizenship by reinforcing the unevenness of state power in the favela, filtering state interventions through highly local power arrangements, both enabling and constraining the access to rights for citizens.
Section Two: Mediating the National
In the global south, people with disabilities are disproportionately represented among the poorest of the poor, conditions often caused by the way that their interests are represented within civil and political society. Focusing on Lebanon, the article first examines prevailing and intertwining systems of ‘mediated representation’ for people disabilities within Lebanon’s sectarian democracy – focusing in particular on the traditional mediating role played by large sectarian social welfare associations. The article then examines the rise of advocacy networks of associations run by people with disabilities that have sought to challenge the marginalizing dynamics of these prevailing systems of representation – one attempting to promote forms of direct self-representation; the other attempting to instrumentalize the dynamics of sectarian mediation itself. The article concludes by reflecting on both the successes but, ultimately, limited opportunities for institutionalizing direct forms of representation within political systems characterized by high degrees of informality, fragmentation, and inequality.
By: Deepta Chopra
This chapter will critically examine the role of various actors and their interactions in the making of a social policy in India, thereby providing an example of mediation in policy processes. The process through which India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) came about will be discussed through the lens of state-society interactions, highlighting the variety of actors involved in the mediation between the Indian state and its citizens for recognising a Right to Work. The chapter highlights different kinds of mediation that were used by these actors during the different phases of policy making – mediation to generate and highlight the demand for the Act, mediation used to negotiate with the state for inclusion of specific provisions in the Act, and finally, following the passage of the Act, mediation through which these mediators continued to stake claim to implementation and monitoring activities associated with the Act. Through this case study, the chapter provides analytical reflections on potential outcomes of mediation for the most marginalised.
By: Brahm Fleisch and Steven Robins
This case study explores civil society-driven processes of mediation in a setting characterised by a relatively well resourced state and a Constitutional democracy that, at least rhetorically, respects political freedoms, active citizenship and liberal democratic rights. The case study describes how a South African social movement, Equal Education (EE), has used a variety of tactics from the courts to protests to alliances with trade unions. EE has initiated campaigns from local demands to repair broken classroom windows to wider engagements to change national regulations. At the same time, this movement has developed a critical pedagogy concerned with establishing the rights of citizens to mobilise for decent public schooling, in particular secondary school learners in under-resourced schools in Khayelitsha in Cape Town. It is these learners who act as the mediators of the pedagogy of active citizenship that is at the heart of this rights-based social movement.
By: Ranjita Mohanty
Although not unique to India, there are many real obstacles to the effective implementation of pro-poor government policies including contradictory policy trajectories and conservative attitudes towards designated groups, including women. This chapter explores the critical mediating role that civil society can play in ensuring the effective implementation of social policies in the Indian context. Illustrated through two case studies of civil society organisations that champion women’s interests, this chapter shows how citizens can better access state social policies by using the Right To Information Act (RTI) Act of 2005. More specifically, the cases show how poor women better access various state-sponsored programmes related to subsidized food, livelihoods, water supply, education, pensions etc. The mediation process enables both the more effective pressurising of the state to deliver and the empowerment of the women who participate in this process. Notably, the latter seems to be more durable and cumulative than the former.
By: Lopita Huq and Simeen Mahmud
Although a democratic state for the last two decades, people’s experience of citizenship in Bangladesh is not one that fulfils the formal promise of equality, nor one that delivers an accountable and transparent state. Further, given the near absence of the state as a development actor, grassroots organizations appeared as important actors between the state and citizens, taking on the responsibility of post-independence rehabilitation. In this chapter we focus on three NGOs, Samata, Nijea Kori and Karmojibi Nari that build active citizenship by empowering the rural poor, including women, to demand rights and resources, especially land. Central to this is a process of conscientisation, organisation and mobilisation that forms of the heart of mediation in these cases. While clearly more effective than other NGOs in building active citizenship, there are ambiguities about the extent to which members speak for themselves or reflect the views of the professionals running the NGOs.
Section Three: Mediating the Post-National
By: Alex ShanklandThis chapter examines how indigenous mediators operate in one of the vast array of ‘new democratic spaces’ in Brazil: the participatory Conselhos (Councils) that are part of the Brazilian health system. It analyses indigenous representatives’ mediation strategies in the Conselhos, and explores the potential of these strategies to promote inclusive or transformative democratic outcomes. The chapter demonstrates that for Brazilian indigenous societies, the key loci of governance are communities, whereas the key loci of representation are spaces of inter-ethnic contact. Thus indigenous practitioners of ‘representation as mediation’ present positions and obtain strategically useful information and other resources, but do not engage in negotiations that could be binding upon the community. They are diplomats rather than politicians. The failure by the Brazilian state to recognize this form of mediation as diplomacy increases the risk of forcing through ‘democratic’ decisions that lack legitimacy in the eyes of indigenous groups.
By: Roberta Rice
In 1990, the representative of the Yukon First Nations signed an Umbrella Final Agreement with the Government of Canada and the Yukon Government that officially recognized a government-to-government relationship between First Nation peoples and the Canadian government. The agreement established an innovative model for Aboriginal self-government in the territory. This outcome was the result of a twenty-year campaign led by the Council for Yukon Indians (CYI) that mediated between the various First Nations and the federal and later territorial governments. Following this victory, the CYI transformed into the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN), largely leaving the individual First Nations to represent themselves to the other levels of government. However, ambiguities and tensions exist between this central body and the representative role played by member First Nations. In sum, the study demonstrates both the representational benefits and risks of mediation in the context of relations between states and minority nations.
By: Laura Trajber Waisbich
This chapter explores Uyghur transnational mobilization outside of China, and its impact on Uyghur politics, over the last 60 years. By focussing on transnational forms of politics, this chapter expands mediation’s contribution to understanding state-society relations to the international level. More specifically, the chapter identifies ‘mediation as voice’, that is representation by diasporic communities on behalf of the silenced Uyghur inside China, and ‘mediation as framing’, that is advocacy by international NGOs and states sympathetic to the Uyghur cause. The chapter demonstrates how the international context offers opportunities and limitations for political representation that require the transformation of political claims to be effective – in this case the key shift was from demanding or (threatening violent) national self-determination to the (peaceful) call for the recognition of human rights by the Chinese state. In so doing, the democratic limitations posed by the ‘double-dealings’ undertaken in mediating global political institutions are exposed.
Bibliography & List of Contributors
In the video below, Deepta Chopra provides an overview of her chapter on “Mediation in India’s public policy spaces”