Journal article (OA) / “Institutional Neglect” in Participatory Planning in Kerala

Tamara Nair. 2018. “Power, Capability and Cultural Subjects: An Inquiry into ‘Institutional Neglect’ in Participatory Planning,Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 19 (3): 331-344.

Abstract: Amartya Sen’s capability approach stresses the importance of social choice and moves away from utilitarian reasoning in development studies. Studies in the developing world have shown how reduced capabilities have compromised the effective participation of marginalized communities in participatory development.

Extending Sen’s capability approach through Foucault’s ideas on power and subject creation, by further literature review, I explore the possibilities of examining the origins of institutional neglect of marginalized communities in Kerala, India. Concepts of normalization and homogenization through the workings of traditional sources of power are put forward as a basis for these communities’ disenfranchisement.

From here, I argue that a reassessment of the state’s decentralized development by reviewing cultural contexts surrounding public participation and by adopting a multilevel approach to understanding complex power arrangements, thereby going beyond an economic framing of development, are ways of ensuring effective democratic decentralization. These steps are imperative if development objectives are to be met and sustained.

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