THE STATE OF ACCESS
Democracies are judged by whether their citizens have equal
access to public services, economic opportunities, justice, and, of
course, participation in the democratic process. Rules and regula-
tions may guarantee this access in theory, but in reality the picture
is often very different.
Malfunctioning of institutions in democratic governance creates
inequalities of access for a number of reasons, including exclu-
sionary policymaking, insufficient attention to minorities, rationing
strategies due to inadequate funding, and inflexible delivery and
enforcement systems. The access paradox bedevils democracies:
the citizens who most depend on the state to guarantee equal
access are often least able to use the proper channels to have their
entitlements enforced. The State of Access, edited by Jorrit de
Jong and Gowher Rizvi, documents the worrisome gap between
principles and practice in democratic governance and presents
ideas designed to narrow that gap.
The State of Access is an international collaboration of scholars
with diverse expertise. Together they take a cross-disciplinary
approach to determining why democracies fail or succeed in creat-
ing equal opportunities for all their people. They identify where and
why democracies have failed while at the same time recommending
steps that may improve the state of access, thus bringing the prom-
ise of true democratic governance closer to realization.
Jorrit de Jong is a research fellow with the Ash Institute for Democratic
Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School and cofounder
of the Kafka Brigade, an action research organization investigating exces-
sive bureaucracy. Gowher Rizvi is vice provost for international programs
and professor of global affairs at the University of Virginia. He was formerly
the director of the Harvard Kennedy School's Ash Institute for Democratic
Governance and Innovation.
Bina Agarwal (Delhi University), Maurits Barendrecht (Tilburg University),
Jorrit de Jong (Harvard Kennedy School), Peter Kasbergen (Utrecht Uni-
versity), Albert Jan Kruiter (independent researcher), Maaike de Langen
(United Nations Development Programme), Michael Lipsky (Georgetown
University), Deborah L. Rhode (Stanford University), Susan Rose-Acker-
man (Yale University), Gowher Rizvi (University of Virginia), Alexander
Schellong (Goethe University), Anwar Shah (World Bank), Guy Stuart(Harvard Kennedy School), and Arre Zuurmond (Delft University).
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in these pages are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the LAFF Society.