Accountability regimes

In a new book review at JCA, Warwick University’s Juanita Elias reviews The Politics of Accountability in Southeast Asia: The Dominance of Moral Ideologies by Garry Rodan and Caroline Hughes.

PoliticsPublished by Oxford University Press, the book is advertised as:

“investigating the crucial role of contrasting ideologies informing accountability movements and mediating reform directions in Southeast Asia. It argues that the most influential ideologies are not those promoting the political authority of democratic sovereign people or of liberalism’s freely contracting individuals. Instead, in both post-authoritarian and authoritarian regimes, it is ideologies advancing the political authority of moral guardians interpreting or ordaining correct modes of behaviour for public officials. Elites exploit such ideologies to deflect and contain pressures for democratic and liberal reforms to governance institutions.”

Elias states that the ideological positions are: “democratic – in which accountability serves to shore up ongoing processes of democratisation that give greater voice and oversight to ordinary citizens; liberal – in which accountability is understood as a technical fix through which states become more efficient public institutions (think New Public Management); and, as mentioned, moral – which usually involve some kind of religious, nationalist, culturalist, or monarchic agenda.”

For Southeast Asia, Elias notes that the book argues that “it is those democratic ideologies associated with many civil society movements and groups that have been consistently silenced either through authoritarian tactics or, more often than not, through the way in which accountability agendas come to be accommodated to state interests.”

She says: “This book is an important piece of work and I found the authors arguments convincing and compelling.”

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