Jonathan Fox publishes new book about accountability politics

Jonathan Fox.

In his new book, Accountability Politics: Power and Voice in Rural Mexico, Latin American Studies professor Jonathan Fox explores how the seeds of accountability grow in authoritarian environments.

The process of embedding accountability into the state is inherently uneven, partial, and contested, according to Fox, who contends that campaigns for public accountability can leave cracks in the system that serve as handholds for subsequent efforts to open up the state to public scrutiny.

Fox, a leading expert on development policy and democratization, has conducted field research in Mexico since 1982. In Accountability Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2008), he traces the "thickening" of rural civil society in Mexico during two decades of citizens' struggles to hold the state accountable, documenting both continuity and change in the periods before, during, and after Mexico's breakthrough democratic elections in 2000.

Fox investigates how much power-sharing really happens in policy innovations such as participatory social and environmental councils, citizen oversight of elections, local government social investment funds, participation reforms in World Bank projects, and community-managed food programs, as well as new social oversight and public information access reforms. He also documents the simultaneous exodus of millions of Mexicans to the US, where many have come together in a new migrant civil society. Fox concludes with a call for new analytical frameworks in which to understand "transitions to accountability" that would focus on the interaction between participation, transparency, and accountability.

Accountability Politics is the latest book in the Oxford Studies in Democratization series, intended for scholars and students of comparative politics and related disciplines.