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Fighting Systemic Corruption: Social Foundations for Institutional Reform

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While institutional reforms enhancing transparency and accountability in state and economic institutions are indispensable parts of any anti-corruption strategy, they also need a long-term social foundation, particularly where corruption is systemic. Social empowerment – expanding and protecting the range of political and economic resources, and alternatives, open to ordinary citizens – is one way to address this task. Social empowerment entails strengthening civil society in order to enhance its political and economic vitality, providing more orderly paths of access and rules of interaction between state and society, and balancing economic and political opportunities. Development strategies aimed particularly at hitherto-excluded people and regions within a country are of particular importance. Social empowerment does not involve wholly new remedies, but rather the judicious coordination of a variety of familiar development and anti-corruption policies. Where it is successful, social empowerment will not totally eradicate corruption. It can, however, provide necessary support for institutional reforms, weaken the combinations of monopoly, discretion, and lack of accountability that make for systemic corruption, and help institutionalise reform for the long term by linking it to lasting interests contending in active political and social processes.

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Johnston, M. Fighting Systemic Corruption: Social Foundations for Institutional Reform. Eur J Dev Res 10, 85–104 (1998).

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