CommGAP believes that social norms transformation is key to fighting petty corruption; we believe that one of the biggest impediments to anti-corruption efforts from the perspective of ordinary citizens is when corruption and bribery become so institutionalized in society that people view corruption as the fixed and incontestable norm. To break down such a system, the public’s ignorance of their rights, cynicism, fear of reprisal and mentality of submission to the status quo must first be defeated. Perhaps most importantly, the efficacy challenge needs to be addressed—people need to believe that they can actually do something about corruption so that they can act on that belief.
In an effort to shed some light on potential approaches to confront this challenge, we have begun to collect and document real-life case examples where citizens came together to speak up against corruption, or where social norms vis-à-vis corruption or public services affected by corrupt practices changed in some way. By the end of this exercise, we plan to produce an online compendium: a list of practical examples from around the world with links to in-depth descriptions of the cases. Our hope is that this compendium can serve as a useful resource for the global anti-corruption community.
As we continue to work on this project, we have a request: if you know of any cases that we should look into, we would like to hear from you. Please contact us.
Beyond the compilation of an online resource, reviewing various cases will, down the road, allow us to examine the factors that can bring citizens together to stand up against something as daunting of a phenomenon as corruption. Was it a certain event that triggered a reaction from the people? Was it that a society had reached a “tipping point” with respect to corruption? Was it a series of well-run awareness raising campaigns or training geared towards citizens? Was it an effective leader or group who could engage a critical mass of people in the fight? Was it an especially compelling idea diffused by well-implemented communication efforts? What conditions are critical for anti-corruption campaigns to take root and succeed? As a follow-up to the compendium, we hope to extract lessons learned from the cases on how to generate will to combat corruption among the citizens—without whose support the fight against corruption, we are afraid, will continue to face an uphill battle.
Photo Credit: Flickr user jbracken