Skip to main content
Contribution to Book
Conceptualizing Accountability
The Self-Restraining State: Power and Accountability in New Democracies (1999)
  • Andreas Schedler
This chapter aims at reconstructing the meaning of the concept of political accountability as we currently use it. In essence, the author claims that it carries two basic connotations – answerability, the obligation of public officials to inform about and to explain what they are doing, and enforcement, the capacity of accounting agencies to impose sanctions on powerholders who have violated their public duties. This two-dimensional structure of meaning makes the concept a broad and inclusive one which within its wide and loose boundaries embraces (or at least overlaps with) lots of other terms – such as surveillance, monitoring, oversight, control, checks, restraint, public exposure, and punishment – that we employ otherwise to describe efforts at rendering the exercise of power a rule-guided enterprise.
  • political accountability,
  • enforcement,
  • answerability,
  • concept analysis,
  • constraints on power
Publication Date
Andreas Schedler, Larry Diamond, and Marc F. Plattner
Lynne Rienner Publishers
Citation Information
Andreas Schedler. "Conceptualizing Accountability" Boulder and LondonThe Self-Restraining State: Power and Accountability in New Democracies (1999)
Available at: