Community-based organizations (CBOs) and norms of participation in Tanzania: Working against the grain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The "institutional turn" in contemporary development theory has emphasized the importance of facilitating the emergence of institutions that will improve citizens' abilities to make choices. More important, it has suggested that the effectiveness of these institutions depends upon their ability to "work with the grain" of the local sociocultural environment. This article argues that community-based organizations (CBOs), as one prominent embodiment of institutional blueprints guiding relationships between state and nonstate actors in development efforts, are a poor fit in the context of contemporary urban Tanzania. This is because they are not consonant with the norms that have long governed popular participation in either the development process or associational life. Although the specific conclusions are limited to Dar es Salaam, the study calls for a method of interrogation that is not only historically and sociologically grounded, but also broadly applicable to other development issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-48
Number of pages26
JournalAfrican Studies Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


Dive into the research topics of 'Community-based organizations (CBOs) and norms of participation in Tanzania: Working against the grain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this