In the development field in recent years, increasing attention has been given to understanding and promoting methods which enable relatively powerless people to hold more powerful people, organisations and institutions to account. Many development practitioners see efforts towards this kind of accountability as having the potential to transform power relations in favour of the less powerful.
Social audits were originally developed in the private sector as a way of evaluating the social and environmental impacts of a company’s activities. They have been adopted by civil society organisations as a way of assessing government performance on meeting its social, environmental and community goals, and finding ways it can be improved. Successful social audits rest on the participation of diverse stakeholders.