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People power and anti-corruption; demystifying citizen-centred approaches


In recent years there has been an ever expanding body of work that advocates putting the citizen at the centre of attempts to tackle corruption. The task of anti-corruption policy, so the argument goes, is to empower citizens to act against those who behave in a corrupt fashion. This article illustrates that whilst there is much to be said for encouraging citizens to move against corrupt officials, and citizen-centred anti-corruption ideas subsequently appear attractive in theory, implementing these notions (as they currently stand) in practice is problematic. Attacking corruption may well often be done most successfully by not openly claiming that that is the aim, and by embracing more indirect reform paths. The article concludes that without buy-in from not just citizens, but also from governments and external agents, citizen-centred anti-corruption mechanisms become limited, potentially irrelevant or even damaging as citizen apathy and frustration increases.

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Correspondence to Dan Hough.

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Verdenicci, S., Hough, D. People power and anti-corruption; demystifying citizen-centred approaches. Crime Law Soc Change 64, 23–35 (2015).

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  • Social Capital
  • Civil Society
  • Public Official
  • Social Trust
  • External Agent