Civil society advocacy collaborations and their contributions to CSO capacities and legitimacy to advance inclusive sustainable development and equality in the Indian context


In the Dialogue-and-Dissent Theory of Change, collaboration and ownership go hand in hand: connecting helps build voices and complementary capacities and synergies that can make change happen. This project researches these assumptions, focusing on CSOs’ political roles, situating the study in India.

We propose studying collaborations focusing on Indian CSOs’ agency and work at domestic levels, to learn how differentiated capacities, understandings, viewpoints and forms of power and legitimacy shape CSOs’ roles as they interact with each other and navigate opportunities, dependencies and constraints, while exploring implications for ownership and autonomy. We study Dialogue and Dissent programmes in their wider civil society contexts, which facilitates understanding relative contributions of different CS manifestations. Research of governmental and private-sector engagement with civil society will facilitate establishing how political realities co-define CSOs’ access to actors and processes and how Dialogue and Dissent contributes to the development of instrumental sources of legitimacy and capacities, while identifying challenges.

Objectives: understanding how collaborations between different types of CSOs at grassroots, national and international levels contribute to inclusive and sustainable development; informing civil society support policy that does justice to diversity, collaboration dynamics, and context.

Six postdocs will be hired.


Project number

W 08.311.104

Main applicant

Dr. M.G.J. van Wessel

Affiliated with

Wageningen University & Research

Team members

Dr. M Aslany, Dr. R. Balasubramanian, Dr. N Deo, Prof. dr. ir. D.J.M. Hilhorst, Dr. S. Katyaini, Dr. Y Mishra, Dr. F. Naz, Dr. S Sahoo, Dr. R. Syal, Dr. M.G.J. van Wessel


15/12/2017 to 15/06/2019