Accountability Keywords

Key terms in the accountability field often have different meanings, to different actors, in different contexts – and in different languages. This project addresses “what counts” as accountability, analyzing the meanings and usage of both widely used and proposed “accountability keywords” – drawing on dialogue with dozens of scholars and practitioners around the world.

The Accountability Keywords Project Includes:

An extensive Accountability Keywords Working Paper
Over 30 invited posts that reflect on meanings and usage of relevant keywords in their own contexts and languages (see all keywords author bios)
A call for proposals for new posts about keywords. To suggest a possible post, please email arc@american.edu.

Featured Posts

Search Posts

Author: Judy Gearhart
Date: July 15, 2021
Country: Multi-country
Language: English
Author: Nani Zulminarni
Date: July 14, 2021
Country: Indonesia
Language: English
Author: Anuradha Joshi
Date: July 13, 2021
Country: Multi-country
Language: English
Author: Fayyaz Yaseen
Date: June 30, 2021
Country: Pakistan
Language: English
Author: Suchi Pande
Date: June 29, 2021
Country: India
Language: English
Author: Joy Aceron and Francis Isaac
Date: June 25, 2021
Country: The Philippines
Language: English
Author: Tiago Carneiro Peixoto
Date: June 25, 2021
Country: Multi-country
Language: English
Author: Ariel Frisancho, with the collaboration of Luz Estrada
Date: June 23, 2021
Country: Peru
Language: English
Author: Ariel Frisancho, con la colaboración de Luz Estrada
Date: 23 de junio de 2021
Country: Peru
Language: español
Author: Walter Flores
Date: June 22, 2021
Country: Multi-country
Language: English
Author: Abdulkarim Mohammed
Date: June 16, 2021
Country: Ghana
Language: English
Author: Benilda Batzin
Date: 15 de junio de 2021
Country: Guatemala
Language: español
Author: Benilda Batzin
Date: June 15, 2021
Country: Guatemala
Language: English
Author: Francis Isaac
Date: June 15, 2021
Country: The Philippines
Language: English
Author: Felipe J. Hevia
Date: May 25, 2021
Country: Mexico
Language: English
Author: Felipe J. Hevia
Date: 25 de mayo de 2021
Country: Mexico
Language: español
Author: Brendan Halloran
Date: March 29, 2021
Country: Multi-country
Language: English
Author: Charles H. Roberts
Date: 1 de marzo de 2021
Country: Colombia
Language: español
Author: Charles H. Roberts
Date: March 1, 2021
Country: Colombia
Language: English
Author: Marcio Cunha Filho
Date: February 24, 2021
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Author: Marcio Cunha Filho
Date: 23 de fevereiro de 2021
Country: Brazil
Language: portugues
Author: Amy Ekdawi
Date: February 23, 2021
Country: Lebanon
Language: English
Author: Haytham Karar
Date: February 3, 2021
Country: Sudan
Language: English
Author: Francis Isaac and Joy Aceron
Date: February 1, 2021
Country: The Philippines
Language: English
Author: Dr. Nitin Jadhav
Date: January 27, 2021
Country: India
Language: English
Author: Yifei Li
Date: December 2, 2020
Country: China
Language: English
Author: Odeh Friday
Date: December 2, 2020
Country: Nigeria
Language: English
Author: Matthew Stephenson
Date: December 2, 2020
Country: Multi-country
Language: English
Author: Rajika Seth
Date: December 2, 2020
Country: India
Language: English

Accountability Keywords by Jonathan Fox

IDS bulletin cover

The Political Construction of Accountability Keywords

Date: March 2018
Author: Jonathan Fox
Published by: Institute of Development Studies

Terminology in the accountability field is ambiguous, encompassing both top-down, technocratic control initiatives and bottom‑up efforts to challenge the abuse of power and promote equity. The main proposition is that communicating accountability strategies should rely on conceptual and cross-cultural translation rather than awkward attempts at direct literal translation. To illustrate how accountability keywords are both politically constructed and contested, this article briefly reflects on the origins, circulation, and transformation of six relevant terms: transparency, the right to know, whistle-blower, advocacy, openwashing, and social accountability – including reflections from accountability advocates from Pakistan, Guatemala, and the Philippines. The conclusion calls for a two-track approach to communicate public accountability strategies, which involves (1) searching within popular cultures to find existing terms or phrases that can be repurposed, and (2) inventing new discourses that communicate ideas about public accountability that resonate with culturally grounded common-sense understandings.