Building Collective Capabilities: The 3C-Model of Grassroots-led Development ‎

Ibrahim, Solava (2016). 'Building Collective Capabilities: The 3C-Model of Grassroots-led Development ‎' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

topics: Operationalizing the Capability Approach, Inclusion and Exclusion, Local Development and Communities, Democracy and Participation, Collective Capabilities

abstract: Context matters. Most studies that sought to explore social innovations at the grassroots-level emphasize the role of contextual factors in affecting the success or failure of these innovations. What is missing, however, is an exploration of how context matters? Studies on grassroots-led development and communal empowerment mostly present different case studies as success stories and draws 'lessons learnt' from these cases for others to adopt. The aim of this paper is to explain how does 'context matter' by identifying three processes needed to render social innovations more successful, scalable and sustainable. What are the integral conditions that promote and sustain social innovation at the grassroots?   To answer this question, the paper presents a new model for grassroots-led development emphasizing the importance of three C-processes, namely: (1) Conscientization; (2) Conciliation; and (3) Collaboration. The three processes promote social change at three highly interdependent mutually reinforcing (or constraining) levels: the individual, collective and institutional levels. By exploring the dynamics of each of these processes and examining the factors that affect them, the paper demonstrates the importance of individual behavioural changes, collective agency and local institutional reforms for the success, sustainability and scaling-up potential of social innovations at the grassroots-level.   This model has been developed as result of extensive empirical fieldwork conducted in Egypt over a period of nine years (2006 - 2015) and more recently in Senegal (May 2014). A longitudinal study in Egypt examined three case studies of grassroots-initiatives over this period and examined the various factors that led to the success, sustainability and scalability of each of these initiatives. Through grounded theory approach, this model is the result of a reflective process that builds on the research findings from these three different case studies in Egypt. More recently, the model was also applied on the community empowerment program of an international NGO, Tostan, in Senegal examining the 3C-processes and their long-term impact on individual and communal wellbeing as well as their effect on promoting effective partnership between the state, NGOs, donor agencies and communities at the local level.   The aim of this model is to bridge the gap between theory and practice by conceptualising and operationalising the 3C-processes. It not only explores the 'how' question, i.e. the dynamics of these processes, but also examines their 'impact' on grassroots-led development. It does so by focusing on three evaluative aspects of GLD, namely: (1) its success (i.e. the achievement of its objectives), (2) its sustainability (i.e. having and sustaining long-term impact) and (3) scalability (broader institutionalisation rather than one-off solutions). The model is presented as an example of social innovation at the grassroots level and a means to promote social change from the bottom-up.  It examines this change at three different interconnected levels of analysis, namely: the individual, the collective and the institutional ones.    After explaining the objectives of the model, the next section will briefly explore its rationale. The first section will examine each of the 3C-components of the model (conscientization, conciliation and collaboration) and will explore the different factors that affect each of these processes. The remainder of the paper embeds this new model into three theoretical frameworks: the capability approach, Giddens' Structuration theory and the empowerment and participation literature. Adopt the capability approach as a conceptual framework; the model emphasizes the role of collective agency for building new collective capabilities and for enhancing social innovations at the grassroots. This new model also draws on Giddens Structuration theory to overcome the duality of agency and structure, to examine the dynamics of these processes and to emphasize the centrality of power for conceptualizing social change at the grassroots-level. The final section will conclude and examine the relevance and limitations of the model.

scroll to top