Making Claims: Citizenship and Service Delivery in Rural India
Gabrielle K. Kruks-Wisner
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
October, 17 2011
MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2011-16
How do poor citizens of the world's largest democracy seek and obtain resources from the state? This paper seeks to explain local variation in citizen-state relations in rural India by examining the diverse paths – direct, mediated, and contentious – through which citizens claim public goods and services from the state. Who makes claims, and claims of what nature? Why do different people – under roughly the same structural conditions – engage the state differently? Drawing on 18 months of fieldwork in rural Rajasthan, including 400 interviews and an original survey of 2210 households, I uncover striking individual-level variation in both the incidence and variety of claim-making practices both across socioeconomic groups set apart by class, caste, and gender, as well as within such groups. I argue that claim-making practices are conditioned by local institutions and opportunity structure, but that – within these structures – individuals develop diverse strategies through participation in distinct networks that aggregate interests, position potential brokers, and shape the flow of ideas within and across social cleavages. The paper concludes by asking what can be learned from different patterns of claim-making about citizen-state relations for democratic practice in rural India.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32working papers series
Date posted: October 17, 2011
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