Authored by: Dominic Burbidge , Mark Philp

Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138081246
eBook ISBN: 9781315112978
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter we draw on recent research in anthropology and political science to set out some of the obstacles to applying commonly used definitions and models of corruption to democracies in Africa, and the default assumptions being made about the nature of law, and about how to distinguish between formality and informality, the public and the private, and the administrative and the political. In particular, we discuss the competing understandings of the “public” and of the expectations that people bring to political office, and the various incentives that these expectations create. We review different accounts of why so many African states seem to be stuck with corruption and distinguish four main types of corrupt practice, making a case for recognizing more openly the challenges involved in finding political solutions to practices deeply embedded in these political orders despite democratization.

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