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Accountability in Comparative Governance: A Flawed Paradigm?

Thu, August 30, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Hynes, 201


This article critiques the accountability paradigm as expressed in the broader field of
comparative political studies. Specifically, we explore the dark side of accountability as
a vehicle in the rise of global populism and highlight practices that undermine other
core democratic values, such as political learning, consensus-building, and citizens'
rights. We argue that accountability lacks conceptual clarity despite its recurrent use by
scholars, the media, and public figures. We present examples of its contested
meaning, failures to deliver on promises, and adverse consequences on liberal,
emerging or post-conflict democracies. Finally, we argue for a nuanced disaggregation
of the concept, distinguishing between retrospective and prospective accountability in
comparative politics.