Research

Book | Articles and chapters | Working papers & drafts | Research in progress | Other writing & media

My research is focused on local citizen-state relations and their consequences for human and social welfare. My work is motivated by two basic questions. How can governments – and local officials in particular – be held more accountable, to better respond to and serve the needs of citizens? And how can citizens actively and effectively engage and make demands on the state, between and beyond elections?

Book

Claiming the State: Active Citizenship and Social Welfare in Rural India. Cambridge University Press. 2018.

  • Awarded the 2018 Joseph W. Elder Prize by the American Institute for Indian Studies for the “best first book in the Indian social sciences.”

Articles and chapters

Great Expectations, Great Grievances: The Politics of Citizen Complaints in India. Comparative Politics (forthcoming).

The Geography of Citizenship Practice: How the Poor Engage the State in Rural and Urban India, with Adam Auerbach. Perspectives on Politics (First View, March 2020).

The Pursuit of Social Welfare: Citizen Claim-Making in Rural India. World Politics, 70(1): 122-163 (2018). (Corrigendum.)

  • Awarded the 2019 Luebbert Article Prize by the Comparative Politics section of the American Political Science Association for the “best article in comparative politics in the past two years.”)

Seeking the Local State: Gender, Caste, and the Pursuit of Public Services in Post-Tsunami India. World Development, 39(7): 1143-1154 (2011).

“Promoting Sustainability, Building Networks: A Green Entrepreneur in Mexico.” M. Shaper (Ed.), Making Ecopreneurs: Developing Sustainable Entrepreneurship. NY, NY: Routledge (2010).

Working papers and drafts

“When is Knowledge Power? Community Media, Mobilization, and the Social Life of Information in Rural India.” (Draft article, to be presented at APSA 2020).

“Beyond Brokers: Intermediaries, Interlocutors, and the Impact of Information on Bureaucratic Responsiveness.” (Draft in progress).

 “Engendering Policing: Evaluating Reforms to Increase Women’s Access to Security and Justice” (with Akshay Mangla and Sandip Sukhtankar). (Pre-analysis plan, registered: doi.org/10.1257/rct.3357-1.1).

Research in progress

Book project. “Mobilizing Voices: How Citizen Journalism Shapes Local Democratic Practice.” 

Examines the effects of community media on whether and how local residents make demands on the state, and on the responsiveness of officials to those demands. Draws on a mixed methods study of India’s largest network of citizen journalists who are trained in the use of video and other information and communication technologies. Investigates whether and how those individuals are able to mobilize local collective action and responsive action from local officials. Stages of research include:

  • Ethnographic study of a sample of citizen journalists, including 4 months of interviews, shadowing, and process tracing. Fieldwork completed.
  • Citizen survey on collective action and demand-making; community focus group discussions. In design.
  • Bureaucrat survey at village, block, and district levels. Planned.

Project on Gender, policing, and institutional reform

“Engendering Policing: Evaluating Reforms to Increase Women’s Access to Security and Justice” (with Akshay Mangla and Sandip Sukhtankar). Study of a “help desk” intervention, implemented by the Madhya Pradesh police, that aims to increase the police’s accountability and responsiveness to women. Combines qualitative case studies with a randomized controlled trial across 180 stations, including police (n = 1900) and citizen (n = 6500) surveys. Endline data collection in progress.

“Anatomy of Reform: Organizational and Institutional Change in India’s Policing Sector” (with Suddha Bhattacharya, Vineet Kapoor, Akshay Mangla & Sandip Sukhtankar).  Process-tracing study of the conditions that enabled and constrained the “help desk” intervention, examining scholar-practitioner research collaboration, and the potential for policy scale-up. Analysis in progress.

“Justice Displaced? Informal Dispute Resolution and Police Responses to Gender Based Violence” (with Akshay Mangla). Qualitative study examining the practice of family counseling as a form of informal dispute resolution in domestic cases. Examines the interplay of family counseling with police practice, and the conditions under which counseling is a substitute for or complement to formal action, such as filing or investigating a case. Fieldwork completed.    

Other Writing & Media

Citizen-State Relations: Countryside and City.” Ideas for India. August 24, 2020.

What the urban & rural poor expect from local government, and why it matters.” The Print. March 18, 2020.

How the Poor Navigate the India State.” Grand Tamasha. Podcast (with Carnegie Milan Vaishnav and Adam Auerbach), February 12, 2020.

Claiming the State.” Rocking our Priors. Podcast (with Alice Evans), September 5, 2019.

Talking to the State: a Review of Oral Democracy: Deliberation in Indian Village Assemblies(Paromitra Sanyal and Vijayendra Rao), India Ink, June 23, 2019.

Citizen & State Across the Rural-Urban Divide: Claim-Making, Decentralization, and the Uneven Use of Intermediaries.Center for the Advanced Study of India. Podcast, April 3, 2018.

Claiming the State.” Slice of MIT. Podcast, October 22, 2018.

The State At Your Doorstep.” The Hindu: Business Line. June 8, 2016. (Version for India in Transition: “Citizens, Panchayats & the State: Rural Local Governance at the Crossroads.” Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania).

Kruks-Wisner, G. (2015). “Navigating the State: Citizenship Practice & the Pursuit of Services in Rural India,”Harvard South Asia Institute, Harvard University. May 2015.

Unequal Opportunities.” Indian Express. February 23, 2015.

A Not So Distant State.” Indian Express. January 8, 2014.

How Rural India Negotiates With the State.” The Hindu: Business Line. July 4, 2012.
(Version for India in Transition: “Citizen Action in Rural India: Claiming Services from the State,” Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania.)

Claiming the State.” Précis. MIT Center for International Studies. Fall 2011.

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