African Studies Political Science and the Study of Africa
by
Rod Alence
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0082

Introduction

Political science contributes a large share of the social research on Africa, and research on Africa has contributed important insights within the discipline of political science. The region contains more than fifty countries, which have exhibited wide variation on “big” issues that motivate political scientists: issues of war and peace, dictatorship and democracy, poverty and development, and sovereignty and interdependence. Major studies of state collapse, ethnic politics, democratization, the political economy of development, and international humanitarian intervention reflect serious engagement with African experiences. The theoretical orientation of much of the field is broadly “institutionalist” in its attention to the organization of political life, informed by two (not necessarily incompatible) “institutionalisms.” One derives from rational-choice political economy and treats institutions as products of and constraints on goal-oriented actors. The other derives from political sociology and treats institutions as social constructions embedded in their cultural settings. Institutions are unusually important in African politics because they are unusually fragile and because the stakes of institution building and institutional failure are unusually high. The methodological orientation of the field is becoming more pluralistic, with studies that employ familiar qualitative methods joined by a growing body of quantitative and mixed-method work. More than ever, a versatile methodological tool kit comes in handy on the research frontier. This article addresses key areas in the study of African politics, including the structural and institutional context of politics (States), political regimes and regime change (Political Trajectories), and social and economic consequences of politics (Politics of Development). Most works cited are by political scientists, with some contributions by others on themes of interest to political scientists.

General Overviews

Overviews of African politics must strike a balance between identifying similarities across the region and capturing differences within it. Together, Nugent 2012, a long book, and Allen 1995, a short article, pull it off: Paul Nugent presents a detailed comparative history, and Chris Allen complements it with a framework that reduces the daunting variation to a few major political trajectories. Political scientists should read Allen 1995 first and stick a copy to the windshield before setting off down Nugent’s many paths. Cheeseman, et al. 2013 is a wide-ranging collection of concise essays on major themes in African politics. Cooper 2002, introduces debates about politics and development in modern Africa from the perspective of a leading historian. Young 2012 and Hydén 2006 contain critical syntheses of decades of research on African politics by two leaders in the field, with Crawford Young emphasizing state dynamics and Göran Hydén emphasizing societal foundations.

  • Allen, Chris. “Understanding African Politics.” Review of African Political Economy 22.65 (1995): 301–320.

    DOI: 10.1080/03056249508704142Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that the diversity of postcolonial African politics can be reduced to a few political trajectories, defined initially by how and how well political leaders built ruling coalitions to manage divisions rooted in heterogeneous anticolonial movements, and later by how and how well those coalitions (or whatever remained of or replaced them) withstood the global economic and political shocks of the 1980s and early 1990s.

    Find this resource:

  • Cheeseman, Nic, David M. Anderson, and Andrea Scheibler, eds. Routledge Handbook of African Politics. New York: Routledge, 2013.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A collection of thirty-two essays on major themes in the study of African politics, by leading scholars in the field. Organized into section on the state, identity, conflict, democracy, development, and international relations.

    Find this resource:

  • Cooper, Frederick. Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511800290Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An extended essay on politics and development in Africa. Argues that the African state’s position as a “gatekeeper” to external political and economic benefits was established during the colonial period, and explores how political independence has modified the ways rulers use it.

    Find this resource:

  • Hydén, Göran. African Politics in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A synthesis of research on African politics, assessing its impact on the discipline of political science. Emphasizes “informal behavior and institutions,” from the personalization of political power, to patron-client networks, to “economies of affection” in agrarian society.

    Find this resource:

  • Nugent, Paul. Africa since Independence: A Comparative History. 2d ed. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A comparative history of political change in Africa since independence. Addresses theoretical controversies through comparative analysis and “thick description” of individual cases.

    Find this resource:

  • Young, Crawford. The Postcolonial State in Africa: Fifty Years of Independence, 1960–2010. Africa and the Diaspora. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A comparative and historical study of postcolonial African states. Covers the first fifty years of African independence, identifying three cycles of hope followed (mostly) by disappointment, with the most recent cycle culminating in the divergent political trajectories of the post–Cold War era. Includes thematic chapters on civil war, political identity, and state performance.

    Find this resource:

Textbooks

Works cited under General Overviews could serve as prescribed texts in courses on African politics. More-conventional introductory textbooks are also available. Englebert and Dunn 2013 is a promising new entrant. Tordoff 2002, in its fourth edition, is tried and tested. Schraeder 2004 and Thomson 2010 tweak the formula in their own ways.

  • Englebert, Pierre, and Kevin C. Dunn. Inside African Politics. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2013.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An introductory textbook, organized thematically. Comparative and historical overviews serve as entry points to scholarly debates.

    Find this resource:

  • Schraeder, Peter J. African Politics and Society: A Mosaic in Transformation. 2d ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An introductory textbook with conventional coverage plus multichapter parts on pre-independence history, international relations, and competing perspectives. First published in 2000; last revised in 2004.

    Find this resource:

  • Thomson, Alex. An Introduction to African Politics. 3d ed. London: Routledge, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An introductory textbook, organized thematically with a country study to illustrate each theme. First published in 2000; last revised in 2010.

    Find this resource:

  • Tordoff, William. Government and Politics in Africa. 4th ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An introductory textbook, organized thematically with examples to illustrate concepts. First published in 1984; last revised in 2002.

    Find this resource:

Reference Works

Guides to scholarly publications include Africa Bibliography, Current Bibliography on African Affairs, and International African Bibliography. Some starting points for researching political developments are Africa South of the Sahara (an annual survey) and Africa Confidential (a biweekly newsletter). Less academically “processed” information is available through more than a hundred Africa-based online news sites and through aggregator sites that filter and index news items from various sources, such as allAfrica.com.

Journals

Leading political science journals occasionally publish articles on Africa, while specialist Africa journals provide continuous forums for research on the region’s politics. Of the specialist journals, African Affairs and the Journal of Modern African Studies are the most influential. African Studies Review and the Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne des Études Africaines are official journals of the African Studies Associations of the United States and Canada. The Journal of Contemporary African Studies, the Review of African Political Economy, and Politique Africaine also publish extensively on African politics.

Data Sets

Many data sets are available online, often with interactive tools for basic analysis. “Macro” data sets (which contain cross-national data measured at the level of countries) have been used widely in quantitative research on African politics. The increasing availability of “micro” data sets (which contain data measured at the level of individuals or households) and georeferenced data sets (which link social data to geographic coordinates) create new opportunities to analyze subnational patterns and processes. This section includes some of the more useful data sets grouped under the headings Macrodata and Micro- and Georeferenced Data.

Macrodata

The African Development Indicators and World Development Indicators are overlapping collections of country-level data compiled from official sources, differing in substantive and geographic scope. The Worldwide Governance Indicators and Ibrahim Index of African Governance measure governance quality by using different methods that yield highly correlated scores. The Polity IV Project contains worldwide data on political regimes. The UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset contains country/year data on armed conflict.

Micro- and Georeferenced Data

The Afrobarometer project is an important source of data on attitudes toward political and economic issues for representative national samples. The Demographic and Health Surveys provide detailed household data, with approximate geographic coordinates for sampling clusters. The UCDP Georeferenced Event Dataset provides coordinates and other information about instances of political violence in Africa, and the Social Conflict Analysis Database provides similar information about instances of social conflict. AidData contains project-level data on aid flows, and some projects are spatially referenced.

Early Theoretical Perspectives

Theories of modernization and dependency dominated the study of African politics from the 1950s until at least the early 1980s. Modernization theory portrays macrosocial change in developing countries as a transition from “tradition” to “modernity”; Coleman 1960 is an exemplar. Its prominence peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. Dependency theory emerged as a critique in the late 1960s and remained influential until the early 1980s, longer within Africa. It emphasizes Africa’s dependent position in the world economy, portraying the region not as modernizing but as sinking into a distorted pattern of underdevelopment. Amin 1972 summarizes the history of Africa’s external dependence. Arrighi and Saul 1973 posits a socialist break as the only way out. By the early 1980s, both perspectives were waning. Lonsdale 1981 and Cooper 1981 are landmark review essays that capture the state of ferment. Apter and Rosberg 1994 and Arrighi 2002 are intriguing retrospectives by pioneers of the early perspectives.

  • Amin, Samir. “Underdevelopment and Dependence in Black Africa: Historical Origin.” Journal of Peace Research 9.2 (1972): 105–120.

    DOI: 10.1177/002234337200900201Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Identifies three zones in Africa: “Africa of the colonial economy” (West Africa), “Africa of the concession-owning companies” (Congo River basin), and “Africa of the labor reserves” (East and southern Africa). After summarizing their links to the world economy over centuries, concludes that Africa has no traditional societies, only dependent ones.

    Find this resource:

  • Apter, David E., and Carl G. Rosberg. “Changing African Perspectives.” In Political Development and the New Realism in Sub-Saharan Africa. Edited by David E. Apter and Carl G. Rosberg, 1–57. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Critically reviews forty years of changing perspectives on African politics. Faults modernization theory for its optimism and dependency theory for its pessimism and concludes that political scientists working on Africa must grapple with big questions about making democracy work in Africa.

    Find this resource:

  • Arrighi, Giovanni. “The African Crisis: World Systemic and Regional Aspects.” New Left Review 15 (2002): 5–36.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes Africa’s economic “crisis” from a dependency perspective. Argues that before the “new” (rational-choice) political economy, dependency theory identified politically entrenched, urban elites as obstacles to development. But while dependency theory treated their behavior as a product of their position in the global economy, the new political economy treats it as a product of their position in domestic politics.

    Find this resource:

  • Arrighi, Giovanni, and John S. Saul. Essays on the Political Economy of Africa. New York: Monthly Review, 1973.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A collection of essays by prominent proponents of dependency theory. Argues that global capitalism and associated patterns of domestic class formation are the main obstacles to African development, and that a socialist break is necessary if development is to be achieved.

    Find this resource:

  • Coleman, James S. “The Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa.” In The Politics of the Developing Areas. Edited by Gabriel A. Almond and James S. Coleman, 247–368. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1960.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Uses modernization theory as a heuristic framework to analyze the dynamism and diversity of African politics in the late 1950s.

    Find this resource:

  • Cooper, Frederick. “Africa and the World Economy.” African Studies Review 24.2–3 (1981): 1–86.

    DOI: 10.2307/523902Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A review essay on linkages between Africa and the world economy. Argues that both neoclassical and dependency perspectives neglect the social context of production in Africa. Concludes with a postscript on the debate that the essay sparked at a meeting of the (US) African Studies Association.

    Find this resource:

  • Lonsdale, John. “States and Social Processes in Africa: A Historiographical Survey.” African Studies Review 24.2–3 (1981): 139–225.

    DOI: 10.2307/523904Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A review essay on African states and related social processes. Criticizes the high ratio of theory to data in research on modernization and dependency. Advocates empirically grounded research on state formation, foreshadowing a wave of research by political scientists on African states.

    Find this resource:

States

States in Africa confront heterogeneous societies domestically and powerful global forces internationally. Political activity is shaped by state institutions and by states’ simultaneous embeddedness in domestic societies and the international system. This section addresses the structural and institutional context of African politics under the headings Geography and Land, Colonial Institutions, Ethnicity, Class, Gender, Leadership and Statecraft, Civil Society, International Norms (Sovereignty), and International Resources (Aid).

Geography and Land

Africa’s national boundaries are legacies of colonial partition, albeit ones that postcolonial leaders have been reluctant to tamper with. Griffiths 1995 decries the “Balkanization” of the continent into small and arbitrarily delimited units. Herbst 2000 and Green 2012 counter that the units are, if anything, too large, given the difficulties of governing sparse rural populations effectively. They echo Hydén 1980, which finds sources of Africa’s underdevelopment in its vast hinterlands, “uncaptured” by the state and by capitalist social relations. Also concerned with the state’s rural presence, Boone 2003 analyzes how local settlement patterns and associated forms of political authority shape central rulers’ strategies. Africa remains sparsely populated compared with other regions, but its population nearly quadrupled in the second half of the 20th century. Mamdani 2001 and Woods 2003 analyze how land scarcity has politicized “indigeneity” and has inflamed violent conflict. Boone 2014 argues that differences in land tenure regimes help explain why land conflict (sometimes) becomes violent and (sometimes) escalates from local to national politics.

  • Boone, Catherine. Political Topographies of the African State: Territorial Authority and Institutional Choice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511615597Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the political institutions that link central rulers and rural subjects, by using local case studies in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana. Argues that different configurations of power within agrarian societies shape the strategies chosen by central rulers, giving rise to uneven subnational “political topographies” of centralization and decentralization.

    Find this resource:

  • Boone, Catherine. Property and Political Order in Africa: Land Rights and the Structure of Politics. Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the political consequences of land tenure regimes as competition for land becomes more intense. Argues that indirect regimes privilege local “neocustomary” authorities and ethnic indigeneity, in contrast with direct (statist or market-based) regimes administered by the national government. Indirect regimes localize land conflict, while direct regimes can propel it into national politics.

    Find this resource:

  • Green, Elliott. “On the Size and Shape of African States.” International Studies Quarterly 56.2 (2012): 229–244.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00723.xSave Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of precolonial population density and trade on the sizes and shapes of colonial states statistically. Finds that sparser populations and less trade led to larger states with more-artificial (straighter) borders. Attributes this to distinctive imperatives of colonial state construction in Africa.

    Find this resource:

  • Griffiths, Ieuan L. The African Inheritance. London: Routledge, 1995.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the political geography of Africa, arguing that artificial colonial boundaries “Balkanized” the continent, and that this legacy perpetuates poverty and violence.

    Find this resource:

  • Herbst, Jeffrey. States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes how political geography has shaped state formation in Africa. Emphasizes the challenges that low population density poses for establishing territorial control. Argues that the mismatch between territorial units and state capacity predisposes Africa to state failure.

    Find this resource:

  • Hydén, Göran. Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: Underdevelopment and an Uncaptured Peasantry. London: Heinemann, 1980.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that Tanzanian peasants have avoided capitalist social relations and socialist state policies, inhabiting an “economy of affection” based on kin and community solidarity. Concludes that the “uncaptured peasantry” is a significant obstacle to economic development in Africa.

    Find this resource:

  • Mamdani, Mahmood. “Beyond Settler and Native as Political Identities: Overcoming the Political Legacy of Colonialism.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 43.4 (2001): 651–664.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the legacy of colonial institutions for political identities in Africa. Argues that colonialism politicized indigeneity (favoring settler over native), and that conflict continues in these terms but with the tables turned (favoring native over settler). Claims of ethnic indigeneity proliferate in political battles, from local conflict over land to national conflict over citizenship.

    Find this resource:

  • Woods, Dwayne. “The Tragedy of the Cocoa Pod: Rent-Seeking, Land and Ethnic Conflict in Ivory Coast.” Journal of Modern African Studies 41.4 (2003): 641–655.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X03004427Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the spiral of politicized ethnicity leading to the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire. Argues that for decades the Ivoirian state favored migrants’ access to abundant forest land to promote cocoa cultivation. As land became scarce in the 1990s, more-restrictive definitions of “indigeneity” became politicized locally and nationally.

    Find this resource:

Colonial Institutions

Political scientists continue to debate the legacy of colonial institutions in Africa. Young 1994 argues that the colonial state at its core was constructed to impose alien and autocratic power, and that this brute domination was inscribed in the institutions handed over to postcolonial rulers. Berman 1997 disagrees, arguing that colonial rulers’ reliance on local African “big men” produced states permeated by the dynamics of African societies. Lodge 1998 argues that settler colonialism had distinctive institutional features and left a distinctive institutional legacy. Mamdani 1996 portrays all colonial states in Africa as “bifurcated” between spheres of “civil” and “customary” authority, arguing that differences in European settlement produced variations on a common institutional theme.

  • Berman, Bruce J. “The Perils of Bula Matari: Constraint and Power in the Colonial State.” Canadian Journal of African Studies 31.3 (1997): 556–570.

    DOI: 10.2307/486198Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Critique of Young 1994, which characterizes the African colonial state as socially autonomous and unconstrained. Argues that colonial states were deeply embedded in and constrained by African societies, because they relied heavily on the cooperation of local African “big men” to maintain political order. Concludes that Young 1994 exaggerates the sociocultural impact of colonial rule.

    Find this resource:

  • Lodge, Tom. “The Southern African Post-colonial State.” Commonwealth & Comparative Politics 36.1 (1998): 20–47.

    DOI: 10.1080/14662049808447759Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Contrasts states in Anglophone southern Africa with generalized accounts of “the African state,” emphasizing the distinctive legacy of settler colonialism. Argues that the economic demands of mobilizing labor and capital for mining and agriculture gave rise to administrative structures that were effective yet repressive, and that the political demands of accommodating settlers gave rise to political institutions that were representative yet (racially) exclusionary.

    Find this resource:

  • Mamdani, Mahmood. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the institutional legacy of late colonialism in Africa. Portrays the colonial state as “bifurcated” between (1) urban areas governed by civil law that protected the rights of citizens and (2) rural areas governed by customary law that enforced tradition on subjects. Argues that postcolonial societies bear the imprint of this pattern, which fragments civil society and complicates democratization.

    Find this resource:

  • Young, Crawford. The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the African colonial state and its institutional legacy. Argues that the colonial state was an extreme form of alien bureaucratic autocracy. Postcolonial rulers sought to personalize state structures while totalizing their political and economic mission. Attributes postcolonial “crisis” to the incapacity of personalized autocracies to deliver on grandiose visions of development.

    Find this resource:

Ethnicity

Africa’s ethnic and linguistic diversity makes it a laboratory for studying the politics of cultural difference. Berman 1998 and Ekeh 1975 analyze the historical processes through which ethnicity came to permeate the state and civil society, giving rise to political factionalism and corruption. Young 1976 compares ethnic politics in African and Asian countries, emphasizing the fluid nature of ethnicity in the political arena. Bates 1983 formalizes the notion of ethnic groups as coalitions mobilized to compete for resources; Posner 2005 uses it to analyze how political institutions affect ethnic identities and their political salience. Franck and Rainer 2012 finds evidence of ethnic favoritism in policy outcomes. Habyarimana, et al. 2009 uses experimental data to investigate how ethnicity affects patterns of collective action.

  • Bates, Robert H. “Modernization, Ethnic Competition, and the Rationality of Politics in Contemporary Africa.” In State versus Ethnic Claims: African Policy Dilemmas. Edited by Donald S. Rothchild and Victor A. Olorunsola, 152–171. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1983.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Presents a rationalist interpretation of ethnic competition in Africa: ethnic groups are coalitions mobilized to pursue material benefits. Argues that where they mobilize to pursue benefits allocated through the political system, they are likely to be “minimum winning coalitions” (literally, in systems with elections; figuratively, in systems without them).

    Find this resource:

  • Berman, Bruce J. “Ethnicity, Patronage and the African State: The Politics of Uncivil Nationalism.” African Affairs 97.388 (1998): 305–341.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a007947Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the construction of ethnic identities under colonial rule and their penetration of the postcolonial state. Argues that African politics continues to be characterized by ethnic factionalism and patronage networks, undermining prospects for political and economic reform.

    Find this resource:

  • Ekeh, Peter P. “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 17.1 (1975): 91–112.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0010417500007659Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that colonialism and nationalist mobilization against it created two public spheres: a “civic public” attached to the modern state and a “primordial public” attached to emergent ethnic groups. The civic public lacks the moral obligations of the primordial public. Problems of governance, such as tribalism and corruption, stem from the coexistence of the two morally inequivalent spheres.

    Find this resource:

  • Franck, Raphaël, and Ilia Rainer. “Does the Leader’s Ethnicity Matter? Ethnic Favoritism, Education, and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa.” American Political Science Review 106.2 (2012): 294–325.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0003055412000172Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of ethnicity on childhood education and health outcomes, by using Demographic and Health Surveys data from eighteen countries (projected back to 1960 by using birth years). Finds that having a member of one’s ethnic group as the country’s top political leader leads to better outcomes, though the extent of ethnic favoritism varies by country.

    Find this resource:

  • Habyarimana, James P., Macartan Humphreys, Daniel N. Posner, and Jeremy M. Weinstein. Coethnicity: Diversity and Dilemmas of Collective Action. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of ethnic diversity on collective action, using experimental data collected in Uganda. Finds that greater cooperation between “coethnics” reflects the norms of reciprocity more so than it reflects ethnic altruism or common tastes.

    Find this resource:

  • Posner, Daniel N. Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511808661Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes how political institutions shape ethnic identities and their political salience, by using qualitative and quantitative data on single-party and multiparty elections in Zambia. Argues that institutions determine the size of viable coalitions that politicians can build, which in turn affects individuals’ strategic choices about which coalition to join.

    Find this resource:

  • Young, Crawford. The Politics of Cultural Pluralism. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes competition between culturally defined groups, comparing African and Asian cases. Argues that cultural identities and groups are fluid and dynamic, with changes influenced by competition in the political arena. Conjectures that postcolonial state formation expands the size of politically relevant cultural groups.

    Find this resource:

Class

Dominant classes in Africa are defined by privileged access to political power and state resources. Sklar 1979 contrasts this political conception of class with Marxist ones on the basis of access to economic resources. Bayart 2009 argues that class formation in Africa charts a middle path between conservative modernization and social revolution. Boone 1994 argues that its roots lie in patterns of rural political authority. Dominant classes emerge as fragile “fusions” of diverse elites, their cohesion facilitated by authoritarian political control (Sklar 1979) and state patronage (Diamond 1987). Household surveys reveal large income inequalities in many African countries. Van de Walle 2009 interprets them as macrolevel consequences of accumulation by politically connected elites, while Price 1974 presents a microlevel analysis of interactions between individuals of unequal status.

  • Bayart, Jean-François. The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An extended essay on politics and the state in Africa, originally published in French in 1989. Argues that African state politics and class formation are characterized by the “reciprocal assimilation of elites.” This intermediate historical path between conservative modernization and social revolution reflects the local political heterogeneity of African societies.

    Find this resource:

  • Boone, Catherine. “States and Ruling Classes in Postcolonial Africa: The Enduring Contradictions of Power.” In State Power and Social Forces: Domination and Transformation in the Third World. Edited by Joel S. Migdal, Atul Kohli, and Vivienne Shue, 108–139. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139174268Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes how the agrarian bases of African societies have shaped postcolonial state formation. Argues that central rulers have been drawn into relationships with local authorities that preserve customary land tenure, favoring political patronage over market economics. Ruling classes emerge as a “fusions of elites” within tenuous distributive coalitions.

    Find this resource:

  • Diamond, Larry. “Class Formation in the Swollen African State.” Journal of Modern African Studies 25.4 (1987): 567–596.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X00010107Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes how the process of class formation has reinforced tendencies toward large and interventionist states in Africa, which provide the resources and administrative rents used to sustain patronage networks.

    Find this resource:

  • Price, Robert M. “Politics and Culture in Contemporary Ghana: The Big-Man Small-Boy Syndrome.” Journal of African Studies 1.2 (1974): 173–204.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes a “syndrome” of authoritarian behavior between individuals of unequal status in Ghana. Argues that the syndrome weakens the public service and feeds intolerance of political opposition.

    Find this resource:

  • Sklar, Richard L. “The Nature of Class Domination in Africa.” Journal of Modern African Studies 17.4 (1979): 531–552.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X00007448Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Challenges the conventional Marxist conception of class, arguing that social class in Africa reflects relations of political power and not economic production, and that dominant class formation involves a “fusion of elites” often facilitated by authoritarian government.

    Find this resource:

  • van de Walle, Nicolas. “The Institutional Origins of Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Annual Review of Political Science 12 (2009): 307–327.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.11.063006.092318Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes Africa’s high income equality, as revealed in household survey data. Argues that inequality has institutional origins: colonial states were unresponsive to and incapable of addressing inequalities related to geography and resource extraction, and postcolonial states have served more as loci of elite accumulation than as agents of progressive redistribution.

    Find this resource:

Gender

African states have strong patriarchal tendencies, and women have struggled for political rights and to influence policy. Parpart and Staudt 1989 presents gendered studies of the African state. Tripp, et al. 2009 traces the emergence of African women’s movements and stresses their contributions in advancing women’s interests. Bauer and Britton 2006 finds that democratization has brought greater formal representation for women but not necessarily better substantive outcomes. Goetz and Hassim 2003 shows that women’s movements must adapt to their political context if they are to be effective. Barnes and Burchard 2013 finds that women’s representation in legislatures improves the political engagement of women more generally, but Clayton 2015 disputes whether representation achieved through exclusionary gender quotas has this effect.

  • Barnes, Tiffany D., and Stephanie M. Burchard. “‘Engendering’ Politics: The Impact of Descriptive Representation on Women’s Political Engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Comparative Political Studies 46.7 (2013): 767–790.

    DOI: 10.1177/0010414012463884Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of women’s representation in African legislatures on gender-based differences in political engagement among ordinary citizens, by using Afrobarometer (cited under Micro- and Georeferenced Data) data. Finds that women’s engagement lags behind men’s but that the gap narrows as women are better represented in legislatures. Concludes that gender quotas can enhance women’s engagement.

    Find this resource:

  • Bauer, Gretchen, and Hannah E. Britton, eds. Women in African Parliaments. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the causes and consequences of high levels of women’s representation in six African parliaments. Argues that active national women’s movements and international norms have promoted quotas that increase women’s representation, but translating formal representation into substantive outcomes remains problematic.

    Find this resource:

  • Clayton, Amanda. “Women’s Political Engagement under Quota-Mandated Female Representation: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment.” Comparative Political Studies 48.3 (2015): 333–369.

    DOI: 10.1177/0010414014548104Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the effects of gender quotas on women’s political engagement in Lesotho, through using Afrobarometer data. Focuses on a policy experiment that randomly reserved local council seats for women candidates, and finds reduced women’s engagement in the reserved districts. Argues that exclusionary quotas create a stigma that undermines political engagement.

    Find this resource:

  • Goetz, Anne Marie, and Shireen Hassim, eds. No Shortcuts to Power: African Women in Politics and Policy Making. London: Zed Books, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes women’s efforts to promote gender equality through political parties and civil society organizations, comparing South Africa’s liberal democracy with Uganda’s “no-party” democracy. Argues that liberal democracy is necessary but not sufficient for building a strong women’s movement. Without the political space provided by liberal democracy, effectiveness requires skillful navigation of networks of political patronage.

    Find this resource:

  • Parpart, Jane L., and Kathleen A. Staudt, eds. Women and the State in Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1989.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Presents gendered analyses of the state in Africa, highlighting how African states perpetuate patriarchy and how women resist, evade, and seek to change them.

    Find this resource:

  • Tripp, Aili Mari, Isabel Casamiro, Joy Kwesiga, and Alice Mungwa. African Women’s Movements: Transforming Political Landscapes. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes women’s rising visibility and influence in African politics. Argues that the emergence of active and autonomous women’s movements in the 1980s and 1990s was crucial, as were international norms forged at United Nations conferences. Finds democracy’s effects to be ambivalent, with some authoritarian governments outperforming democracies on women’s rights and policies.

    Find this resource:

Leadership and Statecraft

Rulers in weakly institutionalized political systems are vulnerable to overthrow yet possess wide discretionary power as long as they retain power. Jackson and Rosberg 1982 characterizes such systems as “personal rule” and argues that they have been common in Africa. Bienen and van de Walle 1989 shows that African leaders’ tenure varies widely, depending on their skill in managing patronage networks. Goldsmith 2001 argues that political insecurity shortens leaders’ time horizons and makes them govern myopically. Callaghy 1987 fleshes out the implications of personal rule for state formation, describing the modal outcome in Africa as the “patrimonial administrative state.” “Patrimonialism” refers to a personalized form of political authority in which the ruler treats the state as an extension of his or her household, with weak checks on the appropriation of state resources and pervasive patron-client networks. (Prefixed by “neo,” it refers explicitly to patrimonial authority exercised behind the facade of a modern bureaucratic state.) Schatzberg 2002 analyzes the normative framework within which rulers seek to legitimate their authority, while Toulabor 1994 shows emphatically that they do not always succeed. Pitcher, et al. 2009 discusses uses and misuses of the concept of “(neo-)patrimonialism” in research on African politics.

  • Bienen, Henry, and Nicolas van de Walle. “Time and Power in Africa.” American Political Science Review 83.1 (1989): 19–34.

    DOI: 10.2307/1956432Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes variation in leadership duration in Africa statistically, using data from independence to 1987. Finds that the best predictor of a leader’s ability to survive in the future is how long he or she has survived in the past. Attributes this to the increasingly successful management of political networks over time.

    Find this resource:

  • Callaghy, Thomas M. “The State as Lame Leviathan: The Patrimonial Administrative State in Africa.” In The African State in Transition. Edited by Zaki Ergas, 87–116. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1987.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Identifies the “patrimonial administrative state” as the modal outcome of efforts by African ruling groups to consolidate their tenuous hold on power. Such a state is authoritarian but weak—a modern bureaucracy on paper but permeated by personalized networks in practice.

    Find this resource:

  • Goldsmith, Arthur A. “Risk, Rule and Reason: Leadership in Africa.” Public Administration and Development 21.2 (2001): 77–87.

    DOI: 10.1002/pad.157Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the relationship between political risk and economic governance in Africa statistically, 1960–1999. Finds high levels of risk (including a nearly one in five chance of being killed in office) and a negative association between risk and governance quality. Attributes the association to vulnerable leaders’ short time horizons.

    Find this resource:

  • Jackson, Robert H., and Carl G. Rosberg. Personal Rule in Black Africa: Prince, Autocrat, Prophet, Tyrant. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that in most African countries political institutions are weak, with power personalized in the hands of the ruler. Defines personal rule as a “political system,” with characteristics such as authoritarianism, clientelism, factionalism, and coup plotting. Identifies distinct leadership styles, treating them as subtypes of the system.

    Find this resource:

  • Pitcher, Anne, Mary H. Moran, and Michael Johnston. “Rethinking Patrimonialism and Neopatrimonialism in Africa.” African Studies Review 52.1 (2009): 125–156.

    DOI: 10.1353/arw.0.0163Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A critique of common usages of “(neo)patrimonialism” in research on African politics. Argues that Max Weber defined the concept as a type of legitimate authority involving reciprocity between rulers and subjects, not as a particular kind of economically dysfunctional authoritarian rule. Offers early-21st-century Botswana as an example of where patrimonial authority coexists with democracy and development.

    Find this resource:

  • Schatzberg, Michael G. Political Legitimacy in Middle Africa: Father, Family, Food. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the cultural foundations of political legitimacy in Africa, mainly through an interpretive reading of news publications in eight countries. Argues that legitimacy is informed by the metaphor of the political community as a household, with the ruler as the father and the citizens as the children, and rights and responsibilities reflecting the norms of an idealized (patriarchal) family.

    Find this resource:

  • Toulabor, Comi M. “Political Satire Past and Present in Togo.” Critique of Anthropology 14.1 (1994): 59–75.

    DOI: 10.1177/0308275X9401400104Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes how the people of Togo used satire, first surreptitiously and later more openly, to mock Gnassingbé Eyadéma’s efforts to legitimate his repressive rule.

    Find this resource:

Civil Society

“Civil society” refers to a sphere for voluntary associational activity enabled by institutionalized limits on legitimate state authority. Political scientists have used the concept to analyze efforts by nonstate actors to establish and maintain such a sphere in Africa, and they have analyzed the relationship between civil society and broader processes of political and economic change. Bayart 1986 argues that as of the mid-1980s, civil society in Africa was conspicuous by its absence, with fragmented opposition to authoritarian governments concerned more with seizing control of the state than with curbing its authority. A few years later, Woods 1992 detects signs of an emergent civil society, with urban dwellers in particular seeking to join forces to shield themselves from the arbitrariness of patrimonial rule. Harbeson, et al. 1994 analyzes the concept of civil society and assesses its applicability to major political changes in the region. Fatton 1995 highlights the pluralistic nature of civil society and cautions against assuming that it is necessarily democratic. Ndegwa 1996 highlights diversity among nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and cautions against assuming that they necessarily seek to limit state authority. Hearn 2001 argues that donors skew the composition of civil society by selectively funding organizations that support their own reform agendas. (The topic of civil society crosscuts several others covered; see especially Ethnicity, Class, Gender, Leadership and Statecraft, and Democratic Transitions.)

  • Bayart, Jean-François. “Civil Society in Africa.” In Political Domination in Africa: Reflections on the Limits of Power. Edited by Patrick Chabal, 109–125. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511558795Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Discusses the concept of civil society and its relevance to analyzing African politics in the 1980s. Argues that despite widespread dissatisfaction with authoritarian rule, opposition remained fragmented and lacked the self-conscious commitment to limiting state power that defines civil society.

    Find this resource:

  • Fatton, Robert, Jr. “Africa in the Age of Democratization: The Civic Limitations of Civil Society.” African Studies Review 38.2 (1995): 67–99.

    DOI: 10.2307/525318Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Discusses the concept of civil society and its relevance to analyzing African politics in the early 1990s. Argues that civil society was emerging as a pluralistic (but not necessarily democratic) reflection of the competing political projects of state reformers, middle-class professionals, and the urban poor.

    Find this resource:

  • Harbeson, John W., Donald Rothchild, and Naomi Chazan, eds. Civil Society and the State in Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An edited collection of theoretical essays and case studies that explore the usefulness of the concept of civil society in analyzing the political change of the early 1990s. Generally finds the concept useful, though some contributors express reservations ranging from quibbles to dissent.

    Find this resource:

  • Hearn, Julie. “The ‘Uses and Abuses’ of Civil Society in Africa.” Review of African Political Economy 28.87 (2001): 43–53.

    DOI: 10.1080/03056240108704502Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the discourse of civil society adopted by Western donors and other external actors with respect to Africa, with case studies of Ghana, South Africa, and Uganda. Argues that behind a universalizing discourse of civil-society promotion, donors have selectively funded policy-oriented organizations supportive of their own agendas.

    Find this resource:

  • Ndegwa, Stephen N. The Two Faces of Civil Society: NGOs and Politics in Africa. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes variation in the behavior of NGOs with respect to undemocratic states, using case studies of two Kenyan NGOs. Argues that oppositional behavior cannot be taken for granted, because it depends on a favorable combination of political opportunity and leadership commitment.

    Find this resource:

  • Woods, Dwayne. “Civil Society in Europe and Africa: Limiting State Power through a Public Sphere.” African Studies Review 35.2 (1992): 77–100.

    DOI: 10.2307/524871Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Assesses the applicability of the concept of civil society in Africa, comparing late-20th-century efforts to undermine patrimonial rule with those in early modern Europe. Argues that the concept is useful precisely because the demarcation of state and society is contested, with middle-class professionals emerging as key advocates of limits on arbitrary state power.

    Find this resource:

International Norms (Sovereignty)

International norms of sovereignty shore up domestically fragile African states. The argument that international “juridical” sovereignty explains the survival of weak states originates from Jackson and Rosberg 1982. Englebert 2009 extends it to show how African rulers use externally conferred legal authority strategically to pursue their domestic interests. Bayart 2000 locates strategies of “extraversion” in long-term historical perspective. Clapham 1996 explores the implications for international relations theory. Khadiagala and Lyons 2001 narrows the focus to foreign policymaking processes within African states. Callaghy, et al. 2001 broadens it to explore transnational local-global networks. Harbeson and Rothchild 2009 argues that domestic reforms are crucial to helping African states forge constructive external relationships. Deng, et al. 1996 grapples with what should happen when things go wrong, arguing that in humanitarian crises, sovereignty norms carry responsibilities for states and for the international community.

  • Bayart, Jean-François. “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion.” African Affairs 99.395 (2000): 217–267.

    DOI: 10.1093/afraf/99.395.217Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that external relations must be central to the conceptualization of the African state. Emphasizes African initiative in the international arena, portraying rulers’ strategies in the modern era of globalization as part of a long history of purposeful “extraversion,” integral to the pursuit of power and resources.

    Find this resource:

  • Callaghy, Thomas M., Ronald Kassimir, and Robert Latham, eds. Intervention and Transnationalism in Africa: GlobalLocal Networks of Power. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511558788Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes “transboundary formations,” networks of power that span global, national, and local actors and processes. Given the limits of state power, the prevalence of international intervention, and the proliferation of nonstate actors, argues that these complex formations profoundly affect how political authority is organized and exercised in Africa, in issue areas from debt relief and peacekeeping to human rights and political representation.

    Find this resource:

  • Clapham, Christopher S. Africa and the International System: The Politics of State Survival. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511549823Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that African states’ behavior in the international arena is a projection of rulers’ struggle for domestic political survival. Emphasizes implications for international relations theory, by using examples such as intra-African relations, relations with Cold War superpowers, and international dimensions of democratization and political insurgencies.

    Find this resource:

  • Deng, Francis M., Sadikiel Kimaro, Terrence Lyons, Donald Rothchild, and I. William Zartman. Sovereignty as Responsibility: Conflict Management in Africa. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Advocates norms of sovereignty that make states accountable for ensuring the basic security and welfare of their people. Argues that failure to meet these responsibilities, as in cases of state collapse and civil war, creates a moral responsibility for the international community to intervene.

    Find this resource:

  • Englebert, Pierre. Africa: Unity, Sovereignty, and Sorrow. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes why African states have survived despite their political and economic failings. Argues that international norms of sovereignty confer legal authority on African rulers. This authority is rarely subject to meaningful popular accountability and can be used to extract resources and to preempt rebellion.

    Find this resource:

  • Harbeson, John W., and Donald S. Rothchild, eds. Africa in World Politics: Reforming Political Order. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    The latest in a series of edited volumes on Africa’s relationship to the global political and economic orders. Emphasizes the importance of internal state reconstruction and political reform to Africa’s external relations and is cautiously optimistic about early-21st-century trends.

    Find this resource:

  • Jackson, Robert H., and Carl G. Rosberg. “Why Africa’s Weak States Persist: The Empirical and Juridical in Statehood.” World Politics 35.1 (1982): 1–24.

    DOI: 10.2307/2010277Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes why African states have survived despite their weakness. Argues that the answer lies in their “juridical” recognition by the international community, which bestows on them legitimacy as sovereign units even as they fail “empirically” to exercise that sovereignty effectively.

    Find this resource:

  • Khadiagala, Gilbert M., and Terrence Lyons, eds. African Foreign Policies: Power and Process. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2001.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A collection of subregional studies of foreign policy in Africa, focusing on the institutions and domestic and international constraints that shape policymaking processes.

    Find this resource:

International Resources (Aid)

Once the preserve of public-policy specialists, development aid is central to current theoretical debates about the African state. Lancaster 1999 frames donor-recipient relationships as ones of statecraft (not charity), examining key issues and actors. Van de Walle 2001 and Leonard and Straus 2003 analyze how the political and institutional foundations of recipient governments shape and are shaped by relations with donors. The impact of aid dependence on governance quality is an important area of research. Moss, et al. 2006 argues that aid-dependent governments are more accountable to donors than they are to their own people. Whitfield 2009 frames the challenge as one of enhancing recipient governments’ control over policy relative to donors, while Joseph and Gillies 2009 frames it as one of subjecting recipient governments to greater control by their own people. Goldsmith 2001 finds a weak positive relationship between aid and state capacity. China’s emergence as a major donor in Africa has been controversial. Brautigam 2009 analyzes how China does and does not differ from Western donors.

  • Brautigam, Deborah. The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes growing Chinese aid to Africa. Notes that some instruments of Chinese economic engagement in Africa are erroneously labeled “aid.” Argues that the impact of Chinese aid on African governance and development is no worse and possibly better than the impact of Western aid.

    Find this resource:

  • Goldsmith, Arthur A. “Foreign Aid and Statehood in Africa.” International Organization 55.1 (2001): 123–148.

    DOI: 10.1162/002081801551432Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of aid on governance in Africa statistically, 1975–1997. Finds a modest, positive effect of aid on the quality of political and economic governance, even accounting for the fact that better-governed countries receive more aid.

    Find this resource:

  • Joseph, Richard, and Alexandra Gillies, eds. Smart Aid for African Development. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Explores tensions between increasing aid and making aid more effective. Focusing on issues of donor strategy, argues that aid to Africa must be “smarter,” not just “bigger.” Emphasizes the need to strengthen domestic accountability mechanisms, to encourage recipient governments to use aid to promote development.

    Find this resource:

  • Lancaster, Carol. Aid to Africa: So Much to Do, So Little Done. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the failure of aid to promote development in Africa, conceptualizing aid as a form of international statecraft. Recognizes the limitations of recipient governments but argues that much of the blame lies with donors’ own lack of capacity to carry out complex political and institutional interventions they attempt. Compares the records of major bilateral and multilateral donors.

    Find this resource:

  • Leonard, David K., and Scott Straus. Africa’s Stalled Development: International Causes and Cures. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes international dimensions of Africa’s development challenges, covering issues of aid (including technical assistance), debt, and humanitarian intervention. While noting major political and economic obstacles in Africa, argues that the international system for promoting development is deeply flawed.

    Find this resource:

  • Moss, Todd J., Gunilla Pettersson, and Nicolas van de Walle. An Aid-Institutions Paradox? A Review Essay on Aid Dependency and State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa. Working Paper 74. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Reviews research on aid and the state in Africa. Argues that as governments become dependent on external aid, they become less accountable to their domestic constituents.

    Find this resource:

  • van de Walle, Nicolas. African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979–1999. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511800344Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes Africa’s disappointing economic performance in the 1980s and 1990s despite unprecedented efforts by external actors to promote reform. Argues that interactions between Africa’s neopatrimonial rulers and aid donors gave rise to a “partial regime syndrome” in which rulers benefited from financial inflows but evaded many policy conditions: aid prolonged the governance problems it was supposed to stamp out.

    Find this resource:

  • Whitfield, Lindsay, ed. The Politics of Aid: African Strategies for Dealing with Donors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes how African governments can gain greater control over aid relationships, with eight country studies. Argues that favorable economic conditions, state capacity to formulate and implement policies, and the “confidence” to keep donors at arm’s length are crucial to effective negotiating strategies.

    Find this resource:

Political Trajectories

Political regime types and ruling coalitions have varied over time and across countries. Mass mobilization peaked at the time of anticolonial movements, followed by a long period of restricted competition and reduced participation. The end of the Cold War triggered widely divergent trajectories. Some countries embarked on transitions to democracy, others descended into a chaotic spiral of state collapse, while still others muddled through under authoritarian regimes (see Allen 1995, Nugent 2012, and Young 2012, all cited under General Overviews.) This section addresses major patterns of political change.

Inclusion and Exclusion

Anticolonial movements mobilized around inclusive notions of “the nation,” but soon after independence, ruling groups sought to consolidate their positions by restricting political competition. Coleman 1954 analyzes nationalism during its most mobilizational phase. Coleman and Rosberg 1966 distinguishes early one-party systems based on strategies for managing internal conflict. Zolberg 1968 attributes creeping authoritarianism to the political vulnerability of leaders who rode to power on the backs of socially diverse nationalist movements. Country studies illustrate different stages of political decay. Abernethy 1969 shows how politically motivated overspending by nationalist politicians contributed to Nigeria’s first military coup. Kasfir 1976 analyzes departicipation as a concerted strategy employed by Ugandan leaders who realized that their ability to deliver material benefits had declined. Azarya and Chazan 1987 identifies societal disengagement as a widespread response to political decay in Ghana and Guinea. Rothchild and Chazan 1988 takes a broader view of deteriorating state-society relations as of the late 1980s.

  • Abernethy, David B. The Political Dilemma of Popular Education: An African Case. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1969.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the expansion of universal primary education in southern Nigeria by nationalist politicians in the 1950s. Argues that the eventual consequences were increased political conflict and reduced state capacity.

    Find this resource:

  • Azarya, Victor, and Naomi Chazan. “Disengagement from the State in Africa: Reflections on the Experience of Ghana and Guinea.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 29.1 (1987): 106–131.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0010417500014377Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes disengagement as a strategy for individuals and groups confronted with states in decline, by using examples from Ghana and Guinea. Identifies forms of disengagement, none directly challenging the state but all contributing indirectly to its further decline.

    Find this resource:

  • Coleman, James S. “Nationalism in Tropical Africa.” American Political Science Review 48.2 (1954): 404–426.

    DOI: 10.2307/1951203Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the emergence of nationalist movements in Africa, portraying them as responses to processes of social modernization triggered by colonialism.

    Find this resource:

  • Coleman, James S., and Carl G. Rosberg, eds. Political Parties and National Integration in Tropical Africa. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A collection of studies of political parties and their impact on nation building. Focuses on one-party systems and distinguishes between “pragmatic-pluralistic” and “revolutionary-centralizing” parties.

    Find this resource:

  • Kasfir, Nelson. The Shrinking Political Arena: Participation and Ethnicity in African Politics, with a Case Study of Uganda. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes trends toward political centralization and departicipation in Africa with a country study of Uganda. Argues that though restricting competition and participation has obvious attractions to political leaders, it risks delegitimating institutions and furthering political decay.

    Find this resource:

  • Rothchild, Donald S., and Naomi Chazan, eds. The Precarious Balance: State and Society in Africa. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An edited volume on state decline and societal disengagement in Africa. Emphasizes “straddling” at the margins of state structures whose capacity to distribute material benefits and to enforce laws and official policies has receded substantially.

    Find this resource:

  • Zolberg, Aristide R. “The Structure of Political Conflict in the New States of Tropical Africa.” American Political Science Review 62.1 (1968): 70–87.

    DOI: 10.2307/1953327Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that colonialism left Africa with divided societies and weak states, posing difficult challenges for African leaders seeking to survive politically and promote development. Interprets the politicization of ethnicity and military coups as evidence of the failure of central political institutions to manage conflict.

    Find this resource:

Military Coups

Military coups were the modal form of government turnover for much of Africa’s postcolonial history. McGowan 2003 presents statistical trends through 2001. Decalo 1990 uses country studies to investigate why the military intervenes and how it performs in office. Hutchful 1986 analyzes populist military revolts and contrasts them with more-conventional “corrective” coups. Hutchful and Bathily 1998 presents thematic essays and country studies on the military in African politics. Luckham 1994 reviews the literature and frames the challenges of security sector reform for Africa’s new democracies.

  • Decalo, Samuel. Coups and Army Rule in Africa: Motivations and Constraints. 2d ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Uses comparative country studies to analyze why military coups occur and how military governments perform in office. Emphasizes the importance of motivations and divisions within the armed forces in triggering coups. Finds that military governments perform no better than their civilian counterparts.

    Find this resource:

  • Hutchful, Eboe. “New Elements in Militarism: Ethiopia, Ghana, and Burkina.” International Journal 41.4 (1986): 802–830.

    DOI: 10.2307/40202410Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Identifies characteristics of “popular” or “revolutionary” regimes formed from revolts by junior officers and lower ranks. Argues that these regimes differ from conventional military regimes in pursuing alliances with civilian mass sectors and in espousing progressive political ideology. Questions their sustainability once political power is reinstitutionalized.

    Find this resource:

  • Hutchful, Eboe, and Abdoulaye Bathily, eds. The Military and Militarism in Africa. Dakar, Senegal: Codesria, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A collection of thematic essays and case studies analyzing the diversity of military involvement in African politics and its implications in an era of political reform.

    Find this resource:

  • Luckham, Robin. “The Military, Militarization and Democratization in Africa: A Survey of Literature and Issues.” African Studies Review 37.2 (1994): 13–75.

    DOI: 10.2307/524766Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Review of the literature on the military and politics in Africa. Concludes by discussing the role of the military in new democracies and the challenges of security sector reform.

    Find this resource:

  • McGowan, Patrick J. “African Military Coups d’État, 1956–2001: Frequency, Trends and Distribution.” Journal of Modern African Studies 41.3 (2003): 339–370.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X0300435XSave Citation »Export Citation »

    Describes trends in military coups statistically, using an original data set for Africa, 1956–2001. Finds that coups continued to be common in the 1990s, but claims that some democracies were institutionalizing civilian control of the military.

    Find this resource:

Democratic Transitions

Fewer than one in every hundred residents of Africa lived under regimes that met minimal standards of democracy in 1989; that changed dramatically within a few years. Domestic and international pressures contributed to the wave of democratization. Emphasizing domestic pressures, Nyong’o 1987 documents the rise of popular opposition in the 1980s. Shivji 1991 presents debates about constitutionalism and democratic accountability among African political scientists just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Bratton and van de Walle 1997 argues that differences in pretransition political regimes shaped patterns of protest and reform. Jensen and Wantchekon 2004 finds that authoritarian governments in countries rich in minerals and oil used resource rents to stave off democratization. Emphasizing international pressures, Abrahamsen 2000 portrays democratization as an extension of neoliberal development discourse imposed by Western donors. Baylies 1995 analyzes it as “political conditionality,” an exchange of aid for political reform. Dunning 2004 finds a positive effect of aid on transitions to democracy after the Cold War. Resnick and van de Walle 2013 reports a similar finding and explores the evolving impact of aid on democracy.

  • Abrahamsen, Rita. Disciplining Democracy: Development Discourse and Good Governance in Africa. London: Zed Books, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the relationship between post–Cold War development discourse and democratization in Africa. Argues that the development discourse, backed by Western powers and the Bretton Woods institutions, served mainly to relegitimate neoliberal prescriptions of economic policy. Portrays African democracies as unstable and exclusionary. Claims that despite extending political rights they are ill equipped to address popular demands for social and economic change.

    Find this resource:

  • Baylies, Carolyn. “‘Political Conditionality’ and Democratisation.” Review of African Political Economy 22.65 (1995): 321–337.

    DOI: 10.1080/03056249508704143Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes “political conditionality,” in which donors (mostly Western, bilateral) make aid conditional on political reform. Argues that if political conditionality succeeds, it could undermine economic conditionality, in which donors (mostly multilateral) make aid conditional on economic reforms that are unpopular among African voters.

    Find this resource:

  • Bratton, Michael, and Nicolas van de Walle. Democratic Experiments in Africa: Regime Transitions in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139174657Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes democratic transitions and consolidation in Africa, from 1989 through the mid-1990s. Argues that general theories do not fit Africa well due to the prevalence of neopatrimonial rule in the region. Finds that pretransition patterns of political participation and competition under different regime types influenced the course of democratization.

    Find this resource:

  • Dunning, Thad. “Conditioning the Effects of Aid: Cold War Politics, Donor Credibility, and Democracy in Africa.” International Organization 58.2 (2004): 409–423.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818304582073Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the effect of foreign aid on democracy in Africa, 1975–1997. Finds a positive relationship between aid and democracy that is confined to the post–Cold War (actually, post-1986) era. Argues that as Cold War rivalries subsided, Western donors’ threats to make aid conditional on political reform became more credible and more effective.

    Find this resource:

  • Jensen, Nathan, and Leonard Wantchekon. “Resource Wealth and Political Regimes in Africa.” Comparative Political Studies 37.7 (2004): 816–841.

    DOI: 10.1177/0010414004266867Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the relationship between natural resource abundance and democracy statistically, using data for sub-Saharan African countries, 1960–1996. Finds that resource-rich countries are less likely to democratize and that they are more likely to be poorly governed, whatever regime type prevails. Argues that this reflects governments’ use of resource rents to fend off demands for democratic and accountable governance.

    Find this resource:

  • Nyong’o, Peter Anyang’, ed. Popular Struggles for Democracy in Africa. London: Zed Books, 1987.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes domestic opposition to authoritarian regimes in Africa. Though skeptical of the Western agenda of economic reform, argues that greater popular participation and democracy are essential, whatever role the state ultimately plays in promoting development.

    Find this resource:

  • Resnick, Danielle, and Nicolas van de Walle, eds. Democratic Trajectories in Africa: Unravelling the Impact of Foreign Aid. Studies in Development Economics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686285.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of aid on democracy in Africa, using cross-national statistics and seven country studies. Finds that aid-dependent countries were more likely to make transitions to democracy in the 1990s, and that the effects of aid on the deepening of democracy have been heavily conditioned by domestic political dynamics.

    Find this resource:

  • Shivji, Issa G., ed. State and Constitutionalism: An African Debate on Democracy. Harare, Zimbabwe: Southern African Political Economy Series Trust, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A collection of conference papers presented in May 1989. Captures views of African scholars on issues of constitutionalism and democracy before the fall of Communist Eastern Europe. Criticizes the abuse of constitutions by authoritarian regimes in Africa and narrowly liberal democratic perspectives on constitutionalism in the West. Emphasizes the need for popular accountability and institutional limits on executive authority.

    Find this resource:

Democratic Consolidation

Few of Africa’s post-1989 democracies have reverted to authoritarian rule, but research on democratic consolidation has posed hard questions about the patterns of governance that have emerged. Gyimah-Boadi 2004 presents a mixed picture, with successes in some countries and issue areas offset by failures in others. Lindberg 2006 finds promising trends, with repeated elections deepening democratic practice. Ake 1993 and Schaffer 1998 are more skeptical, claiming that culturally specific African notions of democracy undermine elections’ effectiveness as accountability mechanisms. Bratton, et al. 2005 uses survey data to show that popular support for democracy in Africa is wide but shallow and to cast doubt on the claim that Africans have unique conceptions of democracy. Building opposition parties that span ethnic and regional divisions is a challenge. Arriola 2012 emphasizes the need to access private finance, while LeBas 2011 emphasizes organizational legacies and elite strategy. Elischer 2013 highlights the limits of narrowly ethnic explanations for party formation.

  • Ake, Claude. “The Unique Case of African Democracy.” International Affairs 69.2 (1993): 239–244.

    DOI: 10.2307/2621592Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that the broad embrace of democratization in Africa reflects many distinct political agendas. For democracy to thrive in Africa, it must avoid the abstractions of Western liberalism and be grounded in Africans’ communal conceptions of politics and their emphasis on concrete economic rights.

    Find this resource:

  • Arriola, Leonardo R. Multiethnic Coalitions in Africa: Business Financing of Opposition Election Campaigns. Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139108553Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes multiethnic opposition coalitions in patronage-based political systems, by using case studies and a cross-national statistical test. Argues that where the government controls finance, multiethnic coalitions fragment, and where the financial sector is liberalized, they can succeed. Finds a positive association between the financial autonomy of business and the viability of opposition in Africa.

    Find this resource:

  • Bratton, Michael, Robert B. Mattes, and Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi. Public Opinion, Democracy, and Market Reform in Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes public attitudes toward democracy and markets by using twelve-country data from the first round of Afrobarometer surveys, 1999–2001. Finds wide support for democracy despite frequent dissatisfaction with how it works in practice. Also finds ambivalence toward market reform, with concerns about reductions in public services and widening social inequalities.

    Find this resource:

  • Elischer, Sebastian. Political Parties in Africa: Ethnicity and Party Formation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139519755Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Explores the relationship between ethnicity and political parties in Africa, by using case studies of Ghana, Kenya, and Namibia (and briefer analyses of seven other countries). Develops a fivefold typology of parties. Argues that many African parties are not ethnically based, and that nonethnic parties are most likely to emerge in countries with a large “core” ethnic group.

    Find this resource:

  • Gyimah-Boadi, Emmanuel, ed. Democratic Reform in Africa: The Quality of Progress. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A collection of thematic and country-specific assessments of the impact of political reform in Africa since the 1990s. Emphasizes the tangible benefits of political freedoms to ordinary Africans but recognizes that challenges remain, such as curbing corruption and holding governments accountable regarding their promises of development.

    Find this resource:

  • LeBas, Adrienne. From Protest to Parties: Party-Building and Democratization in Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546862.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes opposition party building, by using case studies of Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Kenya. Argues that party building is initially shaped by whether organizations exist that span ethnic and regional divisions, and that it is later shaped by opposition leaders’ decision whether to polarize politics. Polarization strengthens opposition parties but risks destabilizing democracy.

    Find this resource:

  • Lindberg, Staffan I. Democracy and Elections in Africa. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Measures trends in elections and democracy since 1989. Finds that the quality of elections and democracy has improved over time. Argues that holding repeated elections has a self-reinforcing effect that deepens democracy.

    Find this resource:

  • Schaffer, Frederic C. Democracy in Translation: Understanding Politics in an Unfamiliar Culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Investigates the meaning of democracy to ordinary Africans, mainly through interviews with Senegalese Wolof speakers. Argues that it differs from what Western observers might expect. Explores the implications for how and how well multiparty democracy works in Africa.

    Find this resource:

State Collapse

Violent political conflict spiked in Africa during the 1990s as state authority collapsed in several countries. Allen 1999 and Bates 2008 portray state collapse as the terminal stage of long-term political decay at the center. Other studies view state collapse from the perspective of insurgencies launched from the periphery: Clapham 1998 presents case studies of guerrilla movements; Fearon and Laitin 2003 analyzes statistical evidence about the conditions under which they are likely to emerge. Reno 1998 and Bayart, et al. 1999 focus on the (often criminal) interplay of commerce and violence when states collapse. Zartman 1995 analyzes why states collapse and what the international community can do to help reconstruct them. Adebajo 2011 focuses on United Nations peacekeeping missions. Straus 2012 shows that large-scale armed conflict has declined since the 1990s but that violence persists at lower levels in other forms.

  • Adebajo, Adekeye. UN Peacekeeping in Africa: From the Suez Crisis to the Sudan Conflicts. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the increase in UN peacekeeping in Africa after the Cold War and seeks to explain the outcomes of specific missions, using fifteen case studies over fifty years. Argues that success depends on aligning the interests of global powers, regional powers, and a critical mass of belligerents. Advocates UN Security Council reform and strengthening links between the UN and regional organizations.

    Find this resource:

  • Allen, Chris. “War, Endemic Violence and State Collapse in Africa.” Review of African Political Economy 26.81 (1999): 367–384.

    DOI: 10.1080/03056249908704399Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that most cases of war and violence in Africa during the 1990s were rooted in degenerative processes of state collapse exacerbated by global economic and political shocks. Explores different manifestations of the breakdown of political order, from genocide to warlord politics.

    Find this resource:

  • Bates, Robert H. When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Treats political order as a strategic equilibrium between citizens and the state. Argues that depressed prices of Africa’s exports and external pressures for democratic reform disrupted fragile political equilibria, which were based on an increasingly exclusionary brand of patronage-based authoritarian rule.

    Find this resource:

  • Bayart, Jean-François, Stephen Ellis, and Béatrice Hibou. The Criminalization of the State in Africa. Oxford: James Currey, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the fusion of political and criminal networks in post–Cold War Africa. Argues that while Western powers were promoting political and economic reform, African reality moved in the opposite direction: political elites plundered natural resources and engaged in illicit trade, factional conflict over the spoils erupted into violent conflict, and international criminal networks cashed in at the nexus of commerce and violence.

    Find this resource:

  • Clapham, Christopher S., ed. African Guerrillas. Oxford: James Currey, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Compares guerrilla insurgencies opposing independent African governments with case studies drawn from the Horn, the Great Lakes region, and West Africa. Relates insurgencies’ rise to state decay, especially in rural areas, but argues that their triumph provides little more than breathing space in which to pursue peace and development.

    Find this resource:

  • Fearon, James D., and David D. Laitin. “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War.” American Political Science Review 97.1 (2003): 75–90.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0003055403000534Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the causes of civil wars, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa, by using worldwide data for 1945–1999. Finds that the best predictors of the onset of civil war are conditions conducive to guerrilla insurgency, such as weak states, political instability, rough terrain, and large populations.

    Find this resource:

  • Reno, William. Warlord Politics and African States. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes “warlord politics,” especially in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). Argues that the end of the Cold War destabilized existing patterns of patronage politics. Vulnerable rulers turned to private-sector and criminal networks for revenue and security, some descending into a reinforcing pattern of exclusionary factionalism and state collapse.

    Find this resource:

  • Straus, Scott. “Wars Do End! Changing Patterns of Political Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa.” African Affairs 111.443 (2012): 179–201.

    DOI: 10.1093/afraf/ads015Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes trends in armed conflict in Africa. Finds that within a decade of peaking in the mid-1990s, the prevalence of large-scale armed conflict dropped substantially. Shows that other forms of violent conflict persisted; for example, violence surrounding elections and access to land and water. Attributes these trends in part to changing global geopolitical dynamics.

    Find this resource:

  • Zartman, I. William, ed. Collapsed States: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A collection of thematic essays and country studies. Argues that state collapse is the product of long-term decay, and that the restoration of political institutions/participation and the reconstruction of the state’s fiscal capacity take time and international assistance.

    Find this resource:

Politics of Development

States and political regimes affect patterns of social and economic change within countries. Trends in large countries and crises, in turn, often have spillover effects for neighboring countries and the region; see Ndulu, et al. 2008a and Ndulu, et al. 2008b, major collaborative studies of the political economy of growth in Africa, 1960–2000. This section addresses the social and economic outcomes of politics in Africa and is divided into the following subsections: States and Markets, States and Development, Democracy and Development, Democracy and Distribution, and Big States and Big Crises.

  • Ndulu, Benno J., Stephen A. O’Connell, Robert H. Bates, Paul Collier, and Chukwuma C. Soludo, eds. The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000. Vol. 1. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008a.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511492648Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Thematic studies of the political economy of growth in Africa, emphasizing political sources of economic stagnation and decline, specifically, “anti-growth syndromes” related to politically motivated economic policymaking and the breakdown of state authority.

    Find this resource:

  • Ndulu, Benno J., Stephen A. O’Connell, Jean-Paul Azam, et al., eds. The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000. Vol. 2, Country Case Studies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008b.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Includes eighteen country studies of the political economy of growth in Africa, with attention to the distinctive challenges of landlocked, coastal, and resource-rich economies.

    Find this resource:

States and Markets

Political considerations lie behind many economically damaging forms of state intervention in Africa. Bates 1981 uses the tools of rational-choice political economy to argue that politicians have incentives to adopt policies that undermine agricultural production, and Bates 2008 extends the argument to other policy areas. Sandbrook 1985 sees a political rationality behind damaging interventions but describes it by using concepts of personal and neopatrimonial rule. Herbst 1990 shows how market reforms threaten political leaders’ ability to distribute state resources and administrative rents. Callaghy 1988 argues that the answer to Africa’s stagnation lies not in economic campaigns to free markets but in political struggles to transform states. Claims about the inherent economic dysfunctionality of African states have not gone unchallenged. Mkandawire 2001 excoriates prevailing theories for assuming away the possibility of African states contributing to development. Chabal and Daloz 1999 argues that ostensibly dysfunctional governance often blamed for undermining development in Africa actually “works,” possibly constituting an alternative form of modernization, because some powerful Africans systematically benefit from it.

  • Bates, Robert H. Markets and States in Tropical Africa: The Political Basis of Agricultural Policies. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the political incentives behind economically damaging market interventions in Africa. Argues it is politically rational for governments to adopt policies that systematically disadvantage rural farmers and favor politically pivotal urban dwellers, even if the result is agricultural stagnation.

    Find this resource:

  • Bates, Robert H. “Domestic Interests and Control Regimes.” In The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000. Vol. 1. Edited by Benno J. Ndulu, Stephen A. O’Connell, Robert H. Bates, Paul Collier, and Chukwuma C. Soludo, 175–201. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511492648.005Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the political incentives driving economically damaging “control regimes” in various sectors statistically, using data for Africa from the 1960s through the 1990s. Finds that the introduction of political competition is associated with the decline of control regimes.

    Find this resource:

  • Callaghy, Thomas M. “The State and the Development of Capitalism in Africa: Theoretical, Historical, and Comparative Reflections.” In The Precarious Balance: State and Society in Africa. Edited by Donald Rothchild and Naomi Chazan, 67–99. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Proposing Max Weber’s “last” theory of capitalism as an alternative to the theories of Adam Smith and Karl Marx, argues that modern bureaucratic states are required in Africa to provide the institutional foundations for modern capitalist development, and that such states emerge as outcomes of historical political struggles.

    Find this resource:

  • Chabal, Patrick, and Jean-Pascal Daloz. Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument. Oxford: James Currey, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Characterizes an African crisis rooted in “disorder,” ranging from administrative uncertainty to political violence. Argues that political actors maximize their returns from (or “instrumentalize”) this disorder, giving rise to a process of modernization that has a rationality and order of its own but is unfamiliar to Western eyes.

    Find this resource:

  • Herbst, Jeffrey. “The Structural Adjustment of Politics in Africa.” World Development 18.7 (1990): 949–958.

    DOI: 10.1016/0305-750X(90)90078-CSave Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that Western-prescribed market reforms affect patterns and mechanisms of resource allocation in ways that disrupt African rulers’ strategies for retaining political power.

    Find this resource:

  • Mkandawire, P. Thandika. “Thinking about Developmental States in Africa.” Cambridge Journal of Economics 25.3 (2001): 289–314.

    DOI: 10.1093/cje/25.3.289Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Criticizes dominant theoretical perspectives for failing to accept the possibility of states promoting development in Africa, especially perspectives that portray African states as “neopatrimonial” or “rent-seeking.” Argues that such perspectives reject the relevance (or even existence) of African leaders’ and policymakers’ commitment to development.

    Find this resource:

  • Sandbrook, Richard. The Politics of Africa’s Economic Stagnation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511558931Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes political causes of Africa’s disappointing economic performance. Emphasizes the damaging consequences of neopatrimonial and personal rule for capitalist development, and notes the potential for a downward spiral of state decay and economic decline.

    Find this resource:

States and Development

Some prominent studies imply that African states have been hardwired for economic failure for more than a century. Easterly and Levine 1997 and Englebert 2000 argue that Africa’s slow growth is rooted in the ethnic fragmentation of its societies and the structural illegitimacy of its states, features entrenched since colonial partition. Acemoglu, et al. 2001 argues that limited prospects for European settlement in Africa led colonial powers to set up “extractive” institutions that continue to impede economic growth. Austin 2008 counters that European settlement varied substantially within Africa and that even nonsettler colonies have experienced periods of impressive investment and growth. Bowden, et al. 2008 finds that the occupation of agricultural land by European settlers in the early 20th century harms prospects for poverty reduction today, and Angeles and Neanidis 2015 finds that institutions established by settler minorities leave a lasting legacy of corruption. Nugent 2010 proposes a general approach to analyzing how differing historical compromises have shaped the structure and performance of African states.

  • Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson. “The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation.” American Economic Review 91.5 (2001): 1369–1401.

    DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.5.1369Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of political institutions on economic performance statistically, using data for a worldwide sample of sixty-four ex-colonies. Argues that colonial powers established developmental institutions in settler colonies and extractive institutions in nonsettler ones. Finds that modern income levels reflect these differences.

    Find this resource:

  • Angeles, Luis, and Kyriakos C. Neanidis. “The Persistent Effect of Colonialism on Corruption.” Economica 82.326 (2015): 319–349.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of settler colonialism on present-day corruption, using cross-national data. Finds that European settlement has led to greater corruption where settlers remained a minority. Argues that powerful settler elites eschew institutions that would restrain their ability to extract from the rest of society.

    Find this resource:

  • Austin, Gareth. “The ‘Reversal of Fortune’ Thesis and the Compression of History: Perspectives from African and Comparative Economic History.” Journal of International Development 20.8 (2008): 996–1027.

    DOI: 10.1002/jid.1510Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Critique of Acemoglu, et al. 2001 and its thesis about the colonial origins of development. Argues that it neglects the important distinction between settler and nonsettler colonies within Africa, and notes that even in nonsettler colonies, institutions were at times conducive to rapid investment and growth.

    Find this resource:

  • Bowden, Sue, Blessing Chiripanhura, and Paul Mosley. “Measuring and Explaining Poverty in Six African Countries: A Long-Period Approach.” Journal of International Development 20.8 (2008): 1049–1079.

    DOI: 10.1002/jid.1512Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the historical origins of early-21st-century poverty by using data for six African countries. Argues that prospects for poverty reduction are strongly influenced by decisions in the early 20th century about whether to allow European settlers to occupy agricultural land: settler agriculture, by weakening Africans’ position in the labor market and reducing their asset base, caused lasting harm to prospects for poverty reduction.

    Find this resource:

  • Easterly, William R., and Ross Levine. “Africa’s Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 112.4 (1997): 1203–1250.

    DOI: 10.1162/003355300555466Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of ethnic fragmentation on economic growth statistically, using worldwide data from the 1960s through the 1990s. Argues that ethnic fragmentation causes “common pool problems,” ranging from politicized resource allocation to corruption. Finds a strong negative effect of fragmentation on economic growth, accounting for much of Africa’s growth shortfall compared with other regions.

    Find this resource:

  • Englebert, Pierre. State Legitimacy and Development in Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the relationship between “state legitimacy” (defined by historical continuity in state structures) and economic performance statistically, using worldwide data from the 1960s through the 1990s. Argues that illegitimacy favors political strategies and economic policies antithetical to development. Finds that nearly all African states lack structural legitimacy, accounting for much of Africa’s development gap compared with other regions.

    Find this resource:

  • Nugent, Paul. “States and Social Contracts in Africa.” New Left Review 63 (2010): 35–68.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Criticizes prevailing perspectives on the dysfunctionality of African states for failing to account for variation in structure and performance. Argues that differing “social contracts”—historical compromises over revenue, land, and administrative control—help explain differences in state institutions, patterns of interaction between rulers and the ruled, and public good provision.

    Find this resource:

Democracy and Development

The post-1989 wave of democratization came at a time of deep skepticism about the capacity of African states to promote economic development. Jeffries 1993 and Ottaway 1999 argue that multiparty democracy could derail promising efforts at economic reform and state reconstruction. In contrast, Ake 1996 argues that authoritarianism weakened the performance of African states and that democracy was likely to be an improvement. Lewis 1996 notes that neither side had much evidence to back its key claims. Subsequent empirical studies have shown that democracy matters but with mixed implications for development. Alence 2004 finds that democracies are better governed in areas such as public-service effectiveness and corruption control. Humphreys and Bates 2005 finds that electoral competition reduces government extraction but does not necessarily promote “Washington consensus” economic reforms. Block, et al. 2003 finds that emerging democracies are vulnerable to political business cycles. Pitcher 2012 finds that in Africa, “high-quality” democracies with stable party systems have been best equipped to make sustained commitments to privatization reforms.

  • Ake, Claude. Democracy and Development in Africa. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that the main obstacles to economic development in Africa have been political, and that institutionalizing democracy is the only way of ensuring that the pursuit of development is aligned with the well-being of the population.

    Find this resource:

  • Alence, Rod. “Political Institutions and Developmental Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Journal of Modern African Studies 42.2 (2004): 163–187.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X04000084Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the relationship between political institutions and governance quality statistically, using data for African countries, 1999–2000. Finds that in countries with democratic institutions, states perform better as agents of development.

    Find this resource:

  • Block, Steven A., Karen E. Ferree, and Smita Singh. “Multiparty Competition, Founding Elections, and Political Business Cycles in Africa.” Journal of African Economies 12.3 (2003): 444–468.

    DOI: 10.1093/jae/12.3.444Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes political business cycles (expansionary economic policies before elections) statistically, using data for African countries, 1980–1995. Finds evidence of cycles, stronger in more-competitive elections. Conjectures that democratization could undermine political commitment to macroeconomic reform.

    Find this resource:

  • Humphreys, Macartan, and Robert H. Bates. “Political Institutions and Economic Policies: Lessons from Africa.” British Journal of Political Science 35.3 (2005): 403–428.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0007123405000232Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of political institutions on economic policy in Africa statistically, using data from the 1970s through the mid-1990s. Finds that political competition is associated with less government extraction but not with “Washington consensus” policies (measured using the World Bank’s own policy index).

    Find this resource:

  • Jeffries, Richard. “The State, Structural Adjustment and Good Government in Africa.” Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 31.1 (1993): 20–35.

    DOI: 10.1080/14662049308447646Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that good government requires strong states and committed political leadership, and that the indiscriminate promotion of multiparty democracy in the early 1990s threatened some of Africa’s most promising experiments in countries such as Ghana and Uganda.

    Find this resource:

  • Lewis, Peter M. “Economic Reform and Political Transition in Africa: The Quest for a Politics of Development.” World Politics 49.1 (1996): 92–129.

    DOI: 10.1353/wp.1996.0021Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Reviews studies of the politics of economic stagnation in Africa. Argues that broad agreement exists that legitimates political leadership and that capable states are crucial for economic development. Calls for empirical research about whether democracy is likely to help or hurt in these areas.

    Find this resource:

  • Ottaway, Marina. Africa’s New Leaders: Democracy or State Reconstruction? Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes “new leaders” Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. Argues that premature international pressure on them to democratize will jeopardize promising processes of post-conflict state reconstruction.

    Find this resource:

  • Pitcher, M. Anne. Party Politics and Economic Reform in Africa’s Democracies. African Studies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139014700Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of political institutions and party systems on economic reform (specifically privatization), by using cross-national data and three country studies. Shows that governments in high-quality democracies with stable party systems pursue privatization programmatically, while governments in low-quality democracies or fragmented party systems are tempted to subvert reforms.

    Find this resource:

Democracy and Distribution

Democratization changed the formal “rules of the game” for politicians in Africa, forcing them to build broad electoral support in order to gain and maintain power. An emerging body of research has examined the extent to which democratic institutions have altered the ways politicians distribute material benefits. Wantchekon 2003 shows that the clientelistic distribution of private goods remains an attractive political strategy under democracy. Kasara 2007 and Burgess, et al. 2013 find that electoral competition can narrow the scope for ethnic favoritism in taxation and spending. Stasavage 2005 determines that democratization leads to greater spending on primary education, while Kudamatsu 2012 finds that it reduces infant mortality by improving health inputs. Kramon and Posner 2013 cautions against premature generalizations, noting that household-level patterns of distribution differ significantly depending on the type of good analyzed.

  • Burgess, Robin, Remi Jedwab, Edward Miguel, Ameet Morjaria, and Gerard Padró i Miquel. The Value of Democracy: Evidence from Road Building in Kenya. NBER Working Paper 19398. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2013.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of ethnicity and democracy on road building, using data on Kenyan districts, 1963–2011. Finds clear patterns of favoritism benefiting successive presidents’ ethnic groups under one-party rule; this favoritism disappears during periods of multiparty democracy.

    Find this resource:

  • Kasara, Kimuli. “Tax Me If You Can: Ethnic Geography, Democracy, and the Taxation of Agriculture in Africa.” American Political Science Review 101.1 (2007): 159–172.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0003055407070050Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of ethnicity and democracy on agricultural taxation, by using data on fifty combinations of countries and crops, 1966–1995. Finds that farmers from the same ethnic group as the head of state are taxed more heavily, but that democracy reduces the agricultural tax burden and ethnic biases in its distribution.

    Find this resource:

  • Kramon, Eric, and Daniel N. Posner. “Who Benefits from Distributive Politics? How the Outcome One Studies Affects the Answer One Gets.” Perspectives on Politics 11.2 (2013): 461–474.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1537592713001035Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of ethnic favoritism on distributive politics in Africa, by using Demographic and Health Survey data from six countries. Finds that patterns of distribution differ significantly depending on the type of good (education, health, water, and electricity).

    Find this resource:

  • Kudamatsu, Masayuki. “Has Democratization Reduced Infant Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa? Evidence from Micro Data.” Journal of the European Economic Association 10.6 (2012): 1294–1317.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1542-4774.2012.01092.xSave Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of democratization on infant mortality, using Demographic and Health Survey data from twenty-eight African countries. Compares mortality rates for babies born to the same mothers before and after transitions to multiparty democracy. Finds that infant mortality dropped after post–Cold War transitions.

    Find this resource:

  • Stasavage, David. “Democracy and Education Spending in Africa.” American Journal of Political Science 49.2 (2005): 343–358.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0092-5853.2005.00127.xSave Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the impact of democratization on education spending in Africa, by using case studies of Uganda and Malawi and statistical analysis of Africa-wide data, 1980–1996. Finds that democracies spend more on primary education. Argues that this reflects stronger incentives for governments facing competitive elections to deliver public goods to broad constituencies.

    Find this resource:

  • Wantchekon, Leonard. “Clientelism and Voting Behavior: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Benin.” World Politics 55.3 (2003): 399–422.

    DOI: 10.1353/wp.2003.0018Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes African voters’ responses to clientelist and public-policy candidate messages, using randomized experimental data collected during the 2001 presidential campaign in Benin (in mainly rural districts). Finds that clientelist messages work better than public-policy ones in a variety of settings, but that they sometimes fail even among poor voters in underdeveloped areas.

    Find this resource:

Big States and Big Crises

Africa’s development as a region depends heavily on a few big states and can be derailed by a few big crises. Clapham, et al. 2006 argues that big African states are structurally disadvantaged. South Africa has avoided the pitfalls since 1994, with a stable democracy and the region’s largest economy. Wood 2000 analyzes the negotiated transition that brought the country from the brink of civil war. Alence 2004 examines the operation of the resulting institutional arrangements, and Lodge 2002 surveys trends in politics and governance. Nigeria has Africa’s largest population and its second-largest economy, but it ranks among the region’s least governable countries. Osaghae 1998 accounts for the plight of this “crippled giant,” and Lewis 2007 analyzes political obstacles to translating its oil wealth into economic development. The central African war that began in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in the mid-1990s went on to breach national boundaries and become the most deadly international conflict since World War II. Prunier 2009 and Reyntjens 2009 are big and complicated books about a big and complicated war. The Rwandan genocide of 1994 killed an estimated 800,000 people and helped precipitate the war in central Africa. Straus 2006 is a rigorous study of how and why the genocide happened.

  • Alence, Rod. “South Africa after Apartheid: The First Decade.” Journal of Democracy 15.3 (2004): 78–92.

    DOI: 10.1353/jod.2004.0038Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes South African democracy over its first ten years. Argues that institutions of constitutional democracy have become stronger, while the election outcomes have become marginally less competitive. With little separation between executive and legislative authority, argues that the judicial branch is crucial to prospects for accountable governance.

    Find this resource:

  • Clapham, Christopher, Jeffrey Herbst, and Greg Mills. Big African States. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An edited volume on six African states: Angola, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa. Classifies all except South Africa as dysfunctional. Argues that large size brings multiple geographical centers of power, vulnerability to stalemated regional insurgencies, and problems of territorial administration.

    Find this resource:

  • Lewis, Peter. Growing Apart: Oil, Politics, and Economic Change in Indonesia and Nigeria. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the political and institutional foundations of divergent economic outcomes in two major oil-exporting countries: Indonesia and Nigeria. Argues that Nigeria’s disappointing performance from the 1960s through the 1990s was rooted in the inability of politicians to make credible commitments to private-sector actors.

    Find this resource:

  • Lodge, Tom. Politics in South Africa: From Mandela to Mbeki. Cape Town: David Philip, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Surveys politics and governance in South Africa throughout Nelson Mandela’s presidency and into the early years of Thabo Mbeki’s. Begins with an essay about Mandela’s significance within South Africa’s democratic order.

    Find this resource:

  • Osaghae, Eghosa E. The Crippled Giant: Nigeria since Independence. London: Hurst, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that Nigeria has experienced political and economic decline since independence. Its decline has been caused by an unfavorable colonial inheritance, continued international vulnerability, and, perhaps most importantly, the failure to establish domestic foundations for inclusive and accountable governance.

    Find this resource:

  • Prunier, Gérard. Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An extended narrative of the war in central Africa, 1994–2007. Organized chronologically, emphasizes origins of the war in Rwanda and Uganda and criticizes global powers for their weak and halting interest.

    Find this resource:

  • Reyntjens, Filip. The Great African War: Congo and Regional Geopolitics, 1996–2006. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511596698Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An account of the war in central Africa, 1996–2006. Argues that the collapse of the Congolese (ex-Zairian) state lies at the heart of the war, and that reconstructing the state is crucial for national development and regional stability.

    Find this resource:

  • Straus, Scott. The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the Rwandan genocide, drawing on interviews of more than two hundred perpetrators and including case studies of local mobilization. Argues that the main causes of the genocide were the civil war (widespread insecurity), the local intensity of state institutions (capacity to carry out violence quickly countrywide), and the resonance of ethnic categories (convenient in defining an “enemy”).

    Find this resource:

  • Wood, Elisabeth Jean. Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes how mass mobilization changed the strategic calculations of elites in South Africa and El Salvador, culminating in negotiated transitions to democracy. In the South African case, shows that the outcome was a constitutional democracy lacking a minority veto for whites.

    Find this resource:

Political Science versus the Study of Africa?

Controversy has occasionally flared about the ability of political science as a discipline to come to terms with the distinctive realities of African politics. Political science diffused to African universities in the heyday of modernization theory, and many African political scientists quickly questioned its applicability to Africa. Barongo 1983 contains critical perspectives presented at a conference in Nigeria, most of which are directed at the liberal universalism associated with Western political science. Jinadu 2000, a presidential address to the African Association of Political Science, returns to similar themes in blaming Western political science for legitimating the neoliberal reform agenda foisted on Africa after the Cold War. Chabal 2009 criticizes “mainstream political science” for being out of touch with the experiences of ordinary Africans, a critique in which many are bibliographed but few are cited. Coleman and Halisi 1983 argues that depictions of Western political science as “universalizing” and African political science as “relativistic” are caricatures. Funding cuts for area studies at universities in the United States during the 1990s triggered heated debates about the relative importance and prestige accorded to “social science” and “area studies” approaches to African politics. Bates 1997 proposes combining ethnographic research and rational-choice theory as one way of integrating the two approaches. Harbeson 1997 dismisses this proposal as theoretically restrictive and as demeaning to most who conduct research on African politics. Chege 1997 questions the relevance of the controversy for Africa-based political scientists, arguing that even-handed empirical testing is the best way to address theoretical disagreements. Sklar 1993 sees “extremists” in debates about area studies and the discipline as a small minority, with most practitioners seeking common ground.

  • Barongo, Yolamu, ed. Political Science in Africa: A Critical Review. Papers presented at a conference held in Nigeria in 1979. London: Zed Books, 1983.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Notes the rapid growth of political science as a discipline within postcolonial Africa. Advocates critical thinking by African political scientists to adapt Western perspectives to better reflect the problems confronting African societies.

    Find this resource:

  • Bates, Robert H. “Area Studies and Political Science: Rupture and Possible Synthesis.” Africa Today 44.2 (1997): 123–131.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Amid declining funding and prestige for area specialists within American political science, argues for the complementarity of area studies and social-scientific approaches, using the example of integrating ethnography and rational-actor theory.

    Find this resource:

  • Chabal, Patrick. Africa: The Politics of Suffering and Smiling. London: Zed Books, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Develops ways of thinking about African politics as seen by ordinary Africans. While critical of “mainstream political science,” expresses optimism about prospects for building general theories grounded in local meanings.

    Find this resource:

  • Chege, Michael. “The Social Science Area Studies Controversy from the Continental African Standpoint.” Africa Today 44.2 (1997): 133–142.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that the debate about social science versus area studies approaches within American universities is not a priority for most political scientists based in Africa, who face more-pressing challenges. Advocates careful empirical testing of clearly stated theories, whatever their origins, as the best way to advance the understanding of African politics.

    Find this resource:

  • Coleman, James S., and C. R. D. Halisi. “American Political Science and Tropical Africa: Universalism vs. Relativism.” African Studies Review 26.3–4 (1983): 25–62.

    DOI: 10.2307/524161Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Analyzes the “globalization of American political science” in the 1950s and 1960s and the subsequent “de-Americanization” of the discipline, with attention to the encounter between the discipline as practiced in Africa and in the United States. Though this encounter is often viewed as a conflict between universalizing “outsiders” and relativistic “insiders,” argues that the reality is more nuanced.

    Find this resource:

  • Harbeson, John W. “Area Studies and the Discipline: A Rejoinder.” Issue: A Journal of Opinion 25.1 (1997): 29–31.

    DOI: 10.2307/1166243Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Critique of Bates 1997 and its argument about the relationship between social science and area studies approaches within political science. Argues that Bates’s conception of social science imposes culturally restrictive assumptions about rationality and demeans the theoretical contributions of most political scientists who conduct research in the developing world.

    Find this resource:

  • Jinadu, L. Adele. “The Globalisation of Political Science: An African Perspective.” African Journal of Political Science 5.1 (2000): 1–13.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Argues that “liberal triumphalism” linked to the end of the Cold War and economic globalization reinforced Western hegemony within the discipline of political science. Key consequences for Africa are the uncritical application of neoliberal theories of markets and democracy by Western donors, oblivious to African social realities.

    Find this resource:

  • Sklar, Richard L. “The African Frontier for Political Science.” In Africa and the Disciplines: The Contributions of Research in Africa to the Social Sciences and Humanities. Edited by Robert H. Bates, V. Y. Mudimbe, and Jean O’Barr, 83–110. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Assesses contributions by Africa specialists to the discipline of political science and argues that Africa provides an appropriate setting for developing theories of “dual authority” that do not conform with models of unified sovereignty.

    Find this resource:

back to top

Article

Up

Down