New article on willingness to engage in anticorruption activism

A new article in the journal Governance explores citizens' perceptions of corruption and their willingness to engage in anticorruption activism. Its authors are DLP Research Fellow Caryn Peiffer and Linda Alvarez, who have also discussed this issue in a DLP research paper.
 
Many anticorruption campaigns aim to encourage citizens to demand better control over corruption. Recent literature suggests that perceived high levels of corruption and government effectiveness in controlling corruption will limit citizens' willingness to actively oppose corruption. The authors test these ideas across a 71-country sample using Transparency International's 2013 Global Corruption Barometer. 
 
They find that perceived government effectiveness tends to encourage anticorruption civic action, while perceptions of corruption being widespread tend to have the opposite impact in non-OECD countries. 
 
In a non-OECD setting, perceptions of corruption being widespread can contribute to a 'corruption fatigue' whereby people are less willing to engage in anticorruption activism. In an OECD setting, however, such perceptions are likely to be less influential and, if anything, can work to ignite the activist spirit. 
 
The article also notes that, especially among those who perceive that the level of corruption is high, when confidence in the government's efforts grows, so does citizens' willingness to fight corruption. 
 
Two key messages emerge. First, especially in places where corruption is perceived to be widely practiced, 'corruption fatigue' should be a real concern to those that want to encourage a popular anticorruption response; widely held perceptions that corruption is normal can work to undermine efforts to get civil society involved in meaningful anticorruption work. The second message is more hopeful. Especially in a setting where corruption is perceived to be widespread, and where society is most vulnerable to 'corruption fatigue', changing people's perceptions of their own government's role in fighting corruption can work to counter corruption resignation.
 

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