Researching the politics of development



Beyond elite bargains: building democracy from below in Uganda

Working Paper 45

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Sophie King and Sam Hickey

New theories of how democratic development is likely to emerge within developing countries obscure the effects of popular agency, and of ideas, offering an incomplete view of such historical processes and exaggerating the extent to which a particular sequencing of change is required. Insights from the experiences of non-governmental and cooperative organisations in rural Uganda, an unpromising context for the flourishing of democratic development, suggest that certain strategies can achieve meaningful (if limited) forms of progress, particularly where they focus on challenging power relations, developing synergies between civil and political society, and generating ideas that reshape perceptions of subordinate groups.