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Citizenship and the Politics of Civic Driven Change

January 1, 2012

Nation states are premised on the legitimizing presence of a polity comprised of citizens. The politics of this relationship is central to discourse on how societies evolve. Yet in the discipline of international development studies the topic remains peripheral. Reasons can be found in conceptual confusion, in selectivity in donor thinking and policies towards civil society and in the growth-driven political economy of NGO-ism. Remedies for the political lacunae are being sought through a concerted focus on people's rights, citizenship and qualities of leadership that all show valuable progress. This chapter will examine a comprehensive complement to such efforts referred to as civic driven change (CDC). Originating in a grounded empirical approach, the constituent principles and elements of CDC offer a lens that can both sharpen and deepen insights and advance analysis of civic agency in socio-political processes. As an ontologically grounded normative proposition, CDC allows exposure and examination of 'uncivil' forces stemming from contending claims on citizenship. These factors are typically ignored or denied in an historical harmony model of societal change. A CDC narrative is illustrated by reference to contemporary examples of citizen action that play out at multiple sites of governance.