The social conditions for successful community mobilisation: Learning from sex worker led projects in India

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Principal Investgator: Flora Cornish. Lead Organisation: Glasgow Caledonian University

Co-investigator: Catherine Magda Campbell

The mobilisation of grassroots communities is a core commitment of current health and development policies, but is often difficult to achieve. This research examined two uniquely successful community mobilisation projects led by sex workers in India, with the aim of understanding the social conditions that support effective grassroots development. The project investigated the role of three key sets of stakeholders: those who had significance for the projects’ public reputations (journalists, celebrities), practical, day-to-day functioning (police, local leaders), and strategic environment (politicians, government officers, funders).

We found that project success derived from the projects’ strategic management of their relationships with powerful stakeholders. In addition to the better-known strategies of making polite requests, or mobilising adversarial collective protests, these successful projects engage in sophisticated political manoeuvring, offering their stakeholders incentives in return for their support. Doing politics in this way is made possible by: relative security of funding, ‘strength in numbers’, well-connected leaders, and establishing a respected public profile by challenging stigma and publicising achievements.

A downloadable training module called ‘Getting stakeholders on your side!’  was designed to disseminate findings to community organisations. Producing a special issue of the journal AIDS Care and 17 academic papers comprised the academic dissemination.

Primary theme: 
Themes: 
Grant Reference: 
ES/E013961/1
RES-167-25-0193
Project Status: 
Closed
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Sch of Health and Life Sciences
Fund Start Date: 
March 12th, 2007
Fund End Date: 
May 31st, 2010
Fund Currency Code: 
GBP
Fund Value: 
193870
Rights-based-movements
participatory-interventions
community-mobilisation
sex-workers
power-relations
collective-action
external-social-structures
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