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Lecture 10

Lecture 10

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Political Science
R Rice

POLC99 Lecture 10 March 15 Capturing Local Level Power: Municipal Governing Strategies The Decentralization Debate Decentralization: the transfer of resources or responsibilities for public services or decision-making power away from the central government to state or municipal governments. The lower level governments are closer to the people and hence can be held more accountable. There are different types of decentralization. Deconcentration: the transfer of responsibilities to the local level, but not resources or decision-making power. It doesnt have the depth that it should have. World Bank tend to promote this sort of decentralization. Devolution: the transfer of resources, responsibilities, and decision-making power to the local level. True decentralization. Technical Neoliberal Approach: narrow emphasis on the technical problems of program design, implementation to improve service provision. Institutional design: it consults citizens in order to make the service delivery more efficient. Political Alternative Approach: views decentralization as a means to challenge existing power relations and the established distribution of economic and social resources. Its about inclusion and empowerment, trying to create more avenues for popular participation in politics. Bringing the government right there and making it more accessible, forcing the government to be more transparent. It looks at local elites and the power structure, economics and local context. Debate Question: Is decentralizing a tool of neoliberalism or an instrument of empowerment for the dispossessed? Trap of Neoliberalism Argument: downloads central governments responsibilities, co-opts resistance against neoliberalism. Empowerment Argument : decentralization promotes active participation in local politics, but doesnt have to remain there. In many caseswhat starts out local, jumps to the national level. Its also an important space for experiments for alternative forms of governing. Even though the intention was to make service provision better, new models of governance can emerge. Look at the outcome; it can be a means to an end. The Case of Brazils PT (Workers Party) 1
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