Active Citizenship and Neighborhood Governance: North-Western Literature and Global South Realities

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Active citizenship related to neighborhood governance is dependent on the political and governance structures of its context, and is therefore different in the Global North and the Global South. Local active citizenship is often presented from a North-western perspective, with its own active culture of engagement. In contrast, it is often shaped by an unfamiliar culture of engagement in parts of the Global South. This difference questions the applicability of the leading literature in understanding Global South realities. The paper aims to answer this question by reviewing the literature on local activism in both contexts. This review elaborates on the commonality of "context"; while highlighting the variation of "right-based vs. need-based" and "state-citizen collaboration vs. selective state-citizen collaboration" as central dimensions of local activism in both worlds. In result, we conclude that the leading literature on active citizenship in the context of neighborhood governance is limited in its explanation of local activism found in parts of the Global South. Finally, this review paper contributes to inform future empirical research on how to better understand neighborhood activism in contexts of the Global South. In this regard, the deduced commonalities and variations offer a starting point to scholars and offer dimensions which could be investigated to improve our understanding of active resident groups, and eventually contribute to more effective local activism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-48
Number of pages13
JournalSociology and Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Active Citizenship
  • Neighborhood Governance
  • Global South
  • North-Western
  • Culture of Engagement


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