There is a major contradiction in contemporary politics: despite a wave of democratisation that has swept across much of the world, globalisation appears to have reduced those forces that have encouraged democracy historically. Democratic aspirations may well founder upon local political realities. But there is another side to all of this that is still little understood. As the social forces that have supplied the basis for democratisation in the past have become weaker, so other forms of organisation have grown up. A variety of new social movements and of voluntary associations, often operating locally and in neighbourhoods, seem to have become more powerful, and to provide the basis for more substantial democracy than we have know hitherto. The chapters in this book, by an international group of authors, analyse the kinds of development and of governance that are emerging in developing countries, as different actors are confronted with structural changes and institutional reforms that generate new and widened local political spaces. Are they really constructing more substantial democracy?

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