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Title: States without citizens : taxation, governance and citizenship in Bangladesh
Author: Stanislawski, Jens-Filip Nycander
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 2013
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The idea that taxation 'demands' representation is central to British and American historiographies that explain egalitarian forms of citizenship. Recently, the idea that taxation is relevant to state building in developing countries has begun to emerge among international development scholars. This thesis explores an empirical case for the idea that taxation inspires democracy and citizenship culture. It combines a detailed case study account of a tax-experiment in Sirajganj, Bangladesh, with an ethnographic account state-citizen interaction surrounding a local government body that took part in the experiment. The study shows that taxation can become a trigger for a wider discussion on justice, rights and correlative duties - enabling a conception of 'right' on legal-contractual, rather than patrimonial basis. A clear finding of the thesis is that given the opportunity for free speech, taxation can inflame underlying social tensions to motivate voice and action where normally citizens tread more carefully. The dissertation reviews a wide academic literature in order to contextualize a nexus of taxation, democracy and citizenship. It critically engages in the debate of foreign aid as a potential resource-curse that may displace the primacy local forms of voice and association. It highlights the fact that NGOs have become the most important institutional actor in Bangladesh, in organizing interests and providing for the poor. But given concerns over sovereignty, these foreign sponsored local interests may not seek representation in parliament. Where the state out-sources the delivery of fundamental rights, with respects to a significant part of the population, to foreign sponsored private initiatives - it becomes relevant to ask whether we a looking at a 'state without citizens'. Moreover, it becomes relevant to consider whet her taxation could be used as a tool to improve democratic forms of governance, as it requires interaction and public dialogue between state and citizens. Whether taxation could improve terms for citizenship in Bangladesh depends on meaning of 'citizenship'. The Bangladeshi legal framework for citizenship envisions expansive health and educational entitlements but limited freedoms of speech, association and insecure property rights. This framework for citizenship should be reconsidered since, given the state of the economy, it is unrealistic that the state could retain enough tax-revenues as to provide in accordance with the law. From a tax-feasibility point of view, Bangladeshi reformers are wise look to the American rather than European example, that exemplifies industrial state society relations. The American emphasis on protecting Individual forms of speech; right and property reflects a pre-industrial model for citizenship. In the agrarian setting collective forms of voice are difficult to organize and thus Bangladeshi citizens need an additional avenue of representation to empower citizens with formal rights. In the American example this is found in an expansive justice system, operating the principle of non-discrimination.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available