A presentation by Lauren M. Maclean, Indiana University. Part of the Spring 2011 Monday Africa Seminar Series "Institutions, Democratization and Citizenship in Africa" organzied by Edmond Keller, Department of Political Science and funded by a grant from the UCLA International Institute.
After nearly decades of democratization, how do Ivoirians and Ghanaians participate in politics on an everyday basis? In particular, do they conceptualize their role as citizens or clients? This paper explores the meaning and everyday practice of democracy on the ground to ordinary people in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The paper begins by comparing the literatures on citizenship and clientelism to see how scholars conceptualize the key differences between the two. Then, the paper analyzes the sub-national variations in public opinion within Ghana from the Afrobarometer Project. I find interesting regional variations that merit further in-depth exploration. In the second half of the paper, I draw on original data from two similar Akan regions of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to interrogate from below how Ivoirians and Ghanaians conceptualize their role in politics. The analysis reveals puzzling variations between such highly similar areas that the existing literature does not adequately explain. I argue that differences in the history of state formation critically shape how people imagine their role in negotiating their political communities. This paper’s analysis from below suggests that perhaps indigenous notions of citizenship and practices of clientelism are more entangled and less distinct on the ground than our abstract social theories would predict.
Lauren M. MacLean is an assistant professor of political science at Indiana University. MacLean’s research interests focus on the politics of state formation, social welfare and citizenship in Africa and in American Indian/Alaska Native communities in the U.S. She earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley and then completed a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan. She has a book entitled Informal Institutions and Citizenship in Rural Africa: Risk and Reciprocity in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and several articles published and forthcoming in Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Studies in Society and History, the International Journal of Public Administration, the Journal of Modern African Studies, Studies in Comparative International Development and World Development. MacLean is currently co-authoring a book, Field Research in Political Science, with Diana Kapiszewski and Ben Read.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Sponsor(s): African Studies Center
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