Building democracy from below: A case from rural Tanzania

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13 Scopus citations


Focusing on events in a rural village in Tanzania during 2001-02, this paper examines the changing nature of state/society relations in Tanzania. Drawing on experience from previous years of fieldwork in the early 1990s, it becomes apparent that villagers are beginning to change the way they engage with the state. These new approaches are framed in part by the discourse of democracy, with which Tanzanians have become familiar since the economic and political liberalisation policies of the 1990s. These events reveal a new sense of the right to participate in decision-making on how to use key development resources. They also illustrate how local elites can threaten to capture benefits for their own gain. As Tanzanians begin to demand more rights to participate in the public sphere, their achievements enlarge our understanding of what might constitute civil society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-304
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Modern African Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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