Concepts of local civic participation, community capacity building and social capital formation are widely asserted to be of importance for democratic good governance, economic development and sustainable resource management (Bebbington et al. 2004; Woolcock 2010; Mansuri and Rao 2013). This brief summarizes the results of comparative investigations into participation and social capital formation through village-level field studies across several of Indonesia’s culturally and ecologically diverse regions.
The research project studied the processes and outcomes of community development and conservation programs aimed at improving participation and building capacity in villages with different social and ecological assets. It assessed the extent to which these approaches have contributed to improved governance and more sustainably managed environments over the decade and a half since Indonesia began its dramatic program of democratisation and decentralisation. This research applied a mixed methods approach in 15 villages across 9 Indonesian provinces where community-based development and conservation interventions had been introduced. It involved detailed random sample surveys, interviews with key figures in local government and non-government organizations, and participant observation. The results are of comparative policy significance beyond the Indonesian case for improved understanding of the practical relationships between capacity building strategies and the community development and conservation goals associated with applications of social capital, participation, and empowerment concepts.
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