Success stories: rhetoric, authenticity, and the right to information movement in north India

Webb, Martin. 2010. Success stories: rhetoric, authenticity, and the right to information movement in north India. Contemporary South Asia, 18(3), pp. 293-304. ISSN 0958-4935 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

This article will look at the use of ‘success stories’ by groups involved in the Right to Information movement in north India. Success stories are narratives tailored by activists to promote active citizenship and to persuade publics that Right to Information legislation can improve accountability in everyday bureaucratic processes by balancing the power relationship between the citizen and the public servant. Success stories might be reproduced as first-hand, text or audio-visual accounts, and the Internet has enabled wide reproduction and dissemination of some narratives in particular. As rhetorical devices, success stories play an important role in activist groups' attempts to frame citizenship and bureaucratic accountability but also have a role in promoting movement cohesion and continuity. Success stories presented at conferences by authentic grassroots activists help to show influential movement sympathisers and policy-makers that the movement is socially diverse and that ordinary people are participating. The conscious use of rhetoric is part of building a sense of belonging to particular groups or to the wider movement. An ethnographic focus on the production, reproduction and performance of success stories reveals the extent to which concern over representation is central to activist practice and identity.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 August 2010Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

11 Apr 2016 13:08

Last Modified:

16 Jun 2017 13:00

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)