Three Reasons Why Actors Working in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States Must Stop Ignoring Social Norms

By Diana Chigas and Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church. Those of us who work to stop abuse of power – in the form of corruption, criminal activity, violence, state capture, etc. – are increasingly recognizing that social norms are key to achieving sustainable behavior change. We assert that in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS) social norms — the mutual expectations about what is typical and appropriate for members of a group — are even more important. Given their critical role in driving behavioral choices, programming that ignores social norms can have serious negative consequences.

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Anti-Corruption Programs — Know Your Crowd!

Social norms exist within a group. They represent mutual expectations, not just common beliefs, within the group about what is the right way to behave in a particular situation. And it is the approval, disapproval or other social sanction from the members of the group that helps ensure compliance with the norm. Therefore, understanding the group — who is in and who is out — matters for programming.

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Best of 2018

Happy 2019 from the Corruption in Fragile States Blog! As we look back over the past year, we realize just how much has happened on the blog. In addition to a new web home with the Henry J. Leir Institute at The Fletcher School, new team members, and a substantial increase in subscribers, we have also added 9 posts, with 4 from guest bloggers, bringing our total posts to 65. As we reflect on the year and how to improve (feedback always welcome), we wanted to share with you the most popular posts of 2018.

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The Elementary Problem That Undermines Social Change Programming: A Word of Warning to Anti-Corruption Practitioners

By Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and Hope Schaitkin. There is increasing interest in understanding the role social norms play in maintaining corrupt patterns of behavior. Research from other fields has shown that social norms can act as the brake on behavior change, thus acting as the block to enduring change. While less is known about how to integrate social norm change into effective anti-corruption programming, other sectors are advancing this practice and anti-corruption practitioners can benefit from what they have learned.

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When Not to Call a Spade a Spade: The Importance of Quiet Anti-Corruption Initiatives

By Sabina Robillard with Louino Robillard

Many anti-corruption campaigns aim to target corruption directly and publicly. They are clear in their mission and have project titles that include the words “anti-corruption.” This directness is important in many respects, but being so visible makes it easy for people in power to applaud these initiatives in public – and to avoid them, or even undermine them, in private.

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The Big Shift That Police and Justice Professionals Need to Make in Fragile States

By Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church

When operating in fragile states, donors and implementers working in the police, justice and corrections space need to incorporate a complexity lens if programs are to effectively respond to the realities of the context. Moving from ‘simple’ or ‘complicated’ understandings of the issues, to one that accepts the complexity inherent to the process is best, particularly when these issues are exacerbated by systemic corruption.

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