Citizen voice and bureaucratic responsiveness: FM radio phone-ins and the delivery of municipal and local government services in Accra, Ghana

Selormey, Ernestina Edem (2013) Citizen voice and bureaucratic responsiveness: FM radio phone-ins and the delivery of municipal and local government services in Accra, Ghana. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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There is a large body of work in actual practice, and in academia on citizen voice and voice mechanisms. Since the introduction of the concept, and its application to various sectors, contexts and countries, there have been several arguments in support of its effectiveness as a mechanism for holding governments and public officials to account; or ensuring that the voices of the poor and marginalised are heard. Some have also argued that voice is a good measure of inclusiveness, and for improvements in service delivery at the local level. However, there have also been arguments that, in as much as voice as a mechanism is good, it has limitations. The limitations arise from the fact that voice alone, cannot produce the desired effect---response or improvements in service delivery. Thus, for voice to be effective, it must be ‘heard.’

This thesis is about the extent to which public voice expressed through radio phone-in programmes can influence the responsiveness of public service delivery organisations at the local level. The study is an empirical enquiry into a new form of voice mechanism, which occurs on radio in Accra, Ghana. The study specifically looks at two unique radio phone-in programmes on two popular Accra-based private commercial FM radio stations. The two programmes provide a weekly on-air platform for residents of Accra and those within transmission range to call in live and lodge complaints about public and/or private services for follow-up and redress.

The main argument of this thesis is that voice mediated through specific radio programmes, not only has the potential to go far; it also has potential to be ‘heard’ due to follow-up, creative programming and some key characteristics of the programmes.

The thesis utilizes the new concept of ‘mediated voice’ to understand how radio complaints about waste management (a service provided by the Accra Metropolitan Authority, the local government for Accra) can elicit responses from the service providers.

The main findings in this study are that radio phone-in programmes have the ability to receive individual voice and represent them as though it were a collective problem. This ability ensures that voice is heard. Second, that because of the publicness of the ‘voice’ on radio, and subsequent follow-up on complaints by the radio programmes, public officials are forced to respond for fear of both administrative and electoral sanctions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and communications > HE7601 Telecommunication industry. Telegraph > HE8689 Radio and television broadcasting
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government > JS7525 Africa
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2013 14:07
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015 11:48

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