Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Personal Politics without Clientelism? Interpreting Citizen-Politician Contact in Africa

  • Lisa Mueller
Abstract:

This study clarifies the meaning of clientelism and documents its extent in sub-Saharan Africa—a region that political scientists and policy makers often view as especially clientelistic. It proposes an understanding of clientelism as personal contact between citizens and politicians in which citizens request selective rather than public goods in exchange for political loyalty. It then suggests that assessments of clientelism in Africa are sensitive to the amount of information about personal contact that surveys provide. Closed-ended Afrobarometer surveys suggest that personal contact is mostly clientelistic, whereas the original open-ended questionnaires employed in an original survey from Niger suggest that the bulk of citizen requests are programmatic. Leveraging detail in Nigeriens’ qualitative accounts of visiting and calling politicians, the highly personalized contact of Nigeriens can be understood as an adaptation to limits on impersonal contact, not a sign that politicians are circumventing formal channels of communication in order to distribute patronage under the table.

Cette étude clarifie la signification du clientélisme et documente son étendue dans L’Afrique saharienne - une région que les politologues et dirigeants considèrent souvent comme particulièrement clientéliste. Il propose une compréhension du clientélisme en tant que contact personnel entre les citoyens et les politiciens dans lequel les citoyens demandent des biens sélectifs plutôt que publics en échange d’une loyauté politique. Il suggère ensuite que les évaluations du clientélisme en Afrique sont sensibles à la quantité d’informations sur les contacts personnels fournis par les enquêtes. Les enquêtes Afrobaromètre fermées suggèrent que le contact personnel est principalement clientéliste, alors que les questionnaires initiaux ouverts dans une enquête originale du Niger suggèrent que la majorité des demandes des citoyens sont programmatiques. Le contact hautement personnalisé des Nigériens peut être compris comme une adaptation aux limites du contact impersonnel, pas un signe que les politiciens contournent les voies officielles de communication afin de distribuer le mécénat sous la table.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Personal Politics without Clientelism? Interpreting Citizen-Politician Contact in Africa
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Personal Politics without Clientelism? Interpreting Citizen-Politician Contact in Africa
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Personal Politics without Clientelism? Interpreting Citizen-Politician Contact in Africa
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Adams, Brian E. 2007. Citizen Lobbyists: Local Efforts to Influence Public Policy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Amadou, Bachirou. 2014. “Le Niger au rendez-vous de la de´mocratie.” ActuNiger. 25 April. http://www.actuniger.com/tribune-opinion/8218-le-niger-au-rendez-vous-de-la-democratie.html.
Arriola, Leonardo. 2013. Multiethnic Coalitions in Africa: Business Financing of Opposition Election Campaigns. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Auyero, Javier. 1999. “‘From the Client’s Point(s) of View’: How Poor People Perceive and Evaluate Political Clientelism.” Theory and Society 28 (2): 197334.
Bardhan, Pranab, and Mookherjee, Dilip. 2006. “Decentralisation and Accountability in Infrastructure Delivery in Developing Countries.” The Economic Journal 116: 101–27.
Bayart, Jean François. 1989. L’Etat en Afrique: La politique du ventre. Paris: Fayard.
Bénit-Gbaffou, Claire. 2011. “‘Up Close and Personal’—How Does Local Democracy Help the Poor Access the State? Stories of Accountability and Clientelism in Johannesburg.” Journal of Asian and African Studies 46 (5): 453–64.
Blair, Harry. 2000. “Participation and Accountability at the Periphery: Democratic Local Governance in Six Countries.” World Development 28 (1): 2139.
Bøås, Morten. 2001. “Liberia and Sierra Leone: Dead Ringers? The Logic of Neopatrimonial Rule.” Third World Quarterly 22 (5): 697–23.
Boyer, Florence. 2014. “Faire fada à Niamey (Niger): Un espace de transgression silencieuse?” Carnets de géographes No. 7.
Bratton, Michael, and de Walle, Nicolas van. 1994. “Neopatrimonial Regimes and Political Transitions in Africa.” World Politics 46 (4): 453–89.
Cain, Bruce, Ferejohn, John, and Fiorina, Morris. 1987. The Personal Vote: Constituency Service and Electoral Independence. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Calvo, Ernesto, and Murillo, Maria Victoria. 2004. “Who Deliver’s Partisan Clients in the Argentine Electoral Market.” American Journal of Political Science 48 (4): 742–57.
Charrad, Mounira M. 2011. “Central and Local Patrimonialism: State-Building in Kin-Based Societies.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 636: 4968.
Clapham, Christopher, ed. 1982. Private Patronage and Public Power. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Collier, David, and Mahon, James E.. 1993. “Conceptual “Stretching” Revisited: Adapting Categories in Comparative Analysis.” The American Political Science Review 87 (4): 845–55.
Cornwall, Andrea. 2008. “Unpacking ‘Participation’: Models, Meanings and Practices.” Community Development Journal 43 (3): 269–83.
Crotty, Michael. 1998. The Foundations of Social Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Daun, Holger. 2000. “Primary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa––A Moral Issue, an Economic Matter, or Both?” Comparative Education 36 (1): 3753.
Eisinger, Peter. 1972. The Pattern of Citizen Contacts with Urban Officials. In People and Politics in Urban Society, ed. Hahn, Harlan. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage pp. 4369.
Ekeh, Peter. 1975. “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 17 (1): 91112.
Emerson, Robert M., Fretz, Rachel I., and Shaw, Linda L.. 2011. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Englebert, Pierre. 2002a. “Born-Again Buganda or the Limits of Traditional Resurgence in Africa.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 40 (3): 345–68.
Englebert, Pierre. 2002b. State Legitimacy and Development in Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
Erdmann, Gero, and Engel, Ulf. 2007. “Neopatrimonialism Reconsidered: Critical Review and Elaboration of an Elusive Concept.” Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 45 (1): 95119.
Fafchamps, Marcel, and Minten, Bart. 2001. “Property Rights in a Flea Market Economy.” Economic Development and Cultural Change 49 (2): 229–67.
Ganse-Morse, Jordan, Mazzuca, Sebastián and Nichter, Simeon. 2014. “Varieties of Clientelism: Machine Politics during Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 58 (2): 415–32.
Gerber, Alan S., and Green, Donald P.. 2000. “The Effects of Canvassing, Telephone Calls, and Direct Mail on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment.” American Political Science Review 94 (3): 653–63.
Gibson, Rachel, and Cantijoch, Marta. 2013. “Conceptualizing and Measuring Participation in the Age of the Internet: Is Online Political Engagement Really Different to Offline?” The Journal of Politics 75 (3): 701–16.
Güneş-Ayata, Ayşe. 1994. Clientelism: Premodern, Modern, Postmodern. In Democracy, Clientelism, and Civil Society, ed. Roniger, Luis and Güneş-Ayata, Ayşe. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner pp. 1928.
Hahonou, Eric Komlavi. 2009. Les partis politiques dans les arènes locales: l’exemple de Gorouol et Bankilaré. In Les pouvoirs locaux au Niger: A la veille de la décentralisation, ed. Olivier de Sardan, Jean-Pierre and Alou, Mahamam Tidjani. Dakar: CODESRIA pp. 6588.
Hamani, Oumarou. 2011. “‘On se de´brouille et on avance comme ça!’ Les ressources non-étatique du fonctionnement des Tribunaux de grande instance de Niamey et de Zinder (Niger).” Paper presented at the 4th European Conference on African Studies, 15–18 June, 2011, Uppsala, Sweden.
Hansen, Ketil Fred. 2003. “The Politics of Personal Relations: Beyond Neopatrimonial Practices in Northern Cameroon.” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 73 (2): 202–25.
Helling, Louis, Serrano, Rodrigo, and Warren, David. 2004. “Linking Community Empowerment, Decentralized Governance, and Public Service Provision through a Local Development Framework.” World Bank Social Protection Discussion Paper No. 0535.
Hicken, Allen, Leider, Stephen, Ravanilla, Nico, and Yang, Dean. 2014. “Temptation in Vote-Selling: Evidence from a Field Experiment in the Philippines.” CESifo Working Paper No. 4828.
Hilgers, Tina. 2012. Democratic Processes, Clientelistic Relationships, and the Material Goods Problem. In Clientelism in Everyday Latin American Politics, ed. Hilgers, Tina. New York: Palgrave Macmillan pp. 322.
Holland, Alisha C., and Palmer-Rubin, Brian. 2015. “Beyond the Machine: Clientelist Brokers and Interest Organizations in Latin America.” Comparative Political Studies 48 (9): 11861223.
International Crisis Group. 2013. “Niger: Another Weak Link in the Sahel?” Africa Report No. 208.
International Telecommunications Union. 2013. “Percentage of Individuals Using the Internet, 2000-2012.” Dataset.
Jackson, Robert H., and Rosberg, Carl G.. 1982. Personal Rule in Black Africa: Prince, Autocrat, Prophet, Tyrant. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Jackson, Robert H. and Rosberg, Carl G.. 1984. “Personal Rule: Theory and Practice in Africa.” Comparative Politics 16 (4): 421–42.
Jennings, M. Kent. 1997. “Political Participation in the Chinese Countryside.” The American Political Science Review 91 (2): 361–72.
Jones, Bryan D., Greenberg, Saadia R., Kaufman, Clifford and Drew, Joseph. 1977. “Bureaucratic Response to Citizen-Initiated Contacts: Environmental Enforcement in Detroit.” The American Political Science Review 71 (1): 148–65.
José Alvarez Rivadulla, María. 2012. “Clientelism or Something Else? Squatter Politics in Montevideo.” Latin American Politics and Society 54 (1): 3763.
Joseph, Richard A. 1987. Democracy and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Joseph, Richard A. 1998. Class, State, and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria. In Africa: Dilemmas of Development and Change, ed. Lewis, Peter. Boulder, CO: Westview Press pp. 4463.
Kang, Alice J. 2015. Bargaining for Women’s Rights: Activism in an Aspiring Muslim Democracy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Kapstein, Ethan. 2004. “Behavioral Foundations of Democracy and Development.” Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 52.
Keefer, Philip. 2004. “Clientelism, Credibility and Democracy.” Unpublished Manuscript.
Keefer, Philip. 2007. “Clientelism, Credibility, and the Policy Choices of Young Democracies.” American Journal of Political Science 4 (51): 804–21.
Kelly, Catherine Lena. 2014. Why (So many) Parties? The Logic of Party Formation in Senegal. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
Kenny, Michael. 1962. A Spanish Tapestry: Town and Country in Castile. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Khan, Musghtaq H., and Sundaram, Jomo Kwame. 2000. Rent-Seeking and Economic Development: Theory and Evidence in Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kitschelt, Herbert, and Wilkinson, Steven I.. 2007. CitizenPolitician Linkages: An Introduction. In Patrons, Clients, and Policies: Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Kitschelt, Herbert and Wilkinson, Steven I.. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press pp. 149.
Kramon, Eric. 2009. “Vote-Buying and Political Behavior: Estimating and Explaining Vote-Buying’s Effect on Turnout in Kenya.” Afrobarometer Working Paper No. 114.
Kranton, Rachel E. 1996. “Reciprocal Exchange: A Self-Sustaining System.” The American Economic Review 86 (4): 830–51.
Krieckhaus, Jonathan. 2006. “Democracy and Economic Growth: How Regional Context Influences Regime Effects.” British Journal of Political Science 36 (2): 317–40.
Kyed, Helene Maria, and Buur, Lars. 2006. “Recognition and Democratisation: New Roles for Traditional Leaders in Sub-Saharan Africa.” DIIS Working Paper 2006:11.
Laruelle, Marlene. 2012. “Discussing Neopatrimonialism and Patronal Presidentialism in the Central Asian Context.” Demokratizatsiya 20: 301–24.
Liddell, James. 2010. “Notables, Clientelism and the Politics of Change in Morocco.” The Journal of North African Studies 15 (3): 315–31.
Lieberman, Matthew D., Schreiber, Darren, and Ochsner, Kevin N.. 2003. “Is Political Cognition Like Riding a Bicycle? How Cognitive Neuroscience Can Inform Research on Political Thinking.” Political Psychology 24 (4): 681704.
Lindberg, Staffan I. 2003. “‘It’s Our Time to Chop’: Do Elections in Africa Feed Neo-Patrimonialism rather than Counteract It?” Democratization 10 (2): 121–40.
Lindberg, Staffan I. 2010. “What Accountability Pressures Do MPs in Africa Face and How Do They Respond? Evidence from Ghana.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 48 (1): 117–42.
Lindberg, Staffan I., and Morrison, Minion K. C.. 2008. “Area African Voters Really Ethnic or Clientelistic? Survey Evidence from Ghana.” Political Science Quarterly 123 (1): 95122.
Lukensmeyer, Carolyn J., and Brigham, Steve. 2002. “Taking Democracy to Scale: Creating a Town Hall Meeting for the Twenty-First Century.” National Civic Review 91 (4): 351–66.
Magaloni, Beatriz. 2006. Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and its Demise in Mexico. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Masquelier, Adeline. 2013. “Teatime: Boredom and the Temporalities of Young Men in Niger.” The Journal of the International African Institute 83 (3): 385402.
Mavrogordatos, George Th. 1997. “From Traditional Clientelism to Machine Politics: The Impact of PASOK Populism in Greece.” South European Society and Politics 2 (3): 126.
Médard, Jean-François. 1976. “Le rapport de clientèle: du phénomène social à l’analyse politique.” Revue française de science politique 26 (1): 103–31.
Medina, Luis Fernando, and Stokes, Susan C.. 2007. Monopoly and Monitoring: An Approach to Political Clientelism. In Patrons, Clients, and Policies: Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Kitschelt, Herbert and Wilkinson, Steven I.. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press pp. 6883.
Mkandawire, Thandika. 2015. “Neopatrimonialism and the Political Economy of Economic Performance in Africa: Critical Reflections.” World Politics 69 (3): 563612.
Moynihan, Daniel P. 1969. Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding: Community Action in the War on Poverty. New York: Free Press.
Mueller, Lisa, and Matthews, Lukas. 2016. “The Upcoming Niger Election and the Drama Surrounding It, Explained.” The Washington Post. 17 February. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/02/17/drama-surrounds-the-niger-presidential-election-this-month-heres-why-citizens-cant-safeguard-democracy-on-their-own/
Nichter, Simeon. 2012. “Conceptualizing Vote Buying.” Electoral Studies 35: 315–27.
Nkinyangi, John A. 1991. “Student Protests in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Higher Education 22 (2): 157–73.
Olivier de Sardan, Jean-Pierre. 1969. Système des relations économiques et sociales chez les Wogo (Niger). Paris: Institut d’Ethnologie de l’Université de Paris.
Omoto, Allen M., and Malsch, Anna M.. 2012. Psychological Sense of Community: Conceptual Issues and Connections to Volunteerism-Related Activism. In Processes of Community Change and Social Activism, ed. Omoto, Allen M.. New York: Psychology Press pp. 83102.
Paller, Jeffrey W. 2014. “Informal Institutions and Personal Rule in Urban Ghana.” African Studies Review 57 (3): 123–42.
Pitcher, Anne, Moran, Mary H., and Johnston, Michael. 2009. “Rethinking Patrimonialism and Neopatrimonialism in Africa.” African Studies Review 52 (1): 125–56.
Pitt-Rivers, Julian Alfred. 1954. The People of the Sierra. London: Weidenfield and Nicholson.
Ringo, Cliford J., and Lekorwe, Mogopodi H.. 2013. “Citizen-Leader Apathy in Botswana and Tanzania: Examining Its Implications for Good Governance Practices.” Internatoinal Journal of Business and Social Science 4 (13): 197207.
Robinson, James A., and Verdier, Thierry. 2013. “The Political Economy of Clientelism.” Scandinavian Journal of Economics 115 (2): 260–91.
Sandbrook, Richard. 1972. “Patrons, Clients, and Factions: New Dimensions of Conflict Analysis in Africa.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 5 (1): 104–19.
Schatzberg, Michael G. 2001. Political Legitimacy in Middle Africa: Father, Family, Food. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Schneider, Mark. 2015. Whither the Quid Pro Quo? Essays On Party-Voter Linkages and Distributive Politics in India. Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University.
Seitel, Peter. 1980. See So That We May See: Performances and Interpretations of Traditional Tales from Tanzania. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Serra, George. 1995. “Citizen-Initiated Contact and Satisfaction with Bureaucracy: A Multivariate Analysis.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 5 (2): 175–88.
Sharp, Elaine B. 1982. “Citizen-Initiated Contacting of Government Officials and Socioeconomic Status: Determining the Relationship and Accounting for It.” The American Political Science Review 76 (1): 109–15.
Stokes, Susan C., Dunning, Thad, Nazareno, Marcelo, and Brusco, Valeria. 2013. Brokers, Voters, and Clientelism: The Puzzle of Distributive Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stotsky, Sandra. 1987. “Writing in a Political Context: The Value of Letters to Legislators.” Written Communication 4 (4): 394410.
Thomas, John Clayton. 2013. “Citizen, Customer, Partner: Rethinking the Place of the Public in Public Management.” Public Administration Review 73 (6): 786–96.
Torsello, Davide. 2015. The Ethnographic Study of Corruption: Methodology and Research Focus. In Routledge Handbook of Political Corruption, ed. Heywood, Paul M.. New York: Routledge pp. 183–96.
van de Walle, Nicolas. 2001. African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979–1999. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
van de Walle, Nicolas. 2002. “Africa’s Range of Regimes.” Journal of Democracy 13 (2): 6680. Varraich, Aiysha. 2014. “Corruption: An Umbrella Concept.” QoG Working Paper Series 2014:05, University of Gothernburg.
Vedlitz, Arnold. 1980. “Voting and Contacting: Two Forms of Political Participation in a Suburban Community.” Urban Affairs Review 16 (1): 3148.
Verba, Sidney, and Nie, Norman H.. 1972. Participation in America: Political Democracy and Social Equality. New York: Harper and Row.
Vicente, Pedro C. 2013. “Is Vote Buying Effective? Evidence from a Field Experiment in West Africa.” The Economic Journal 124 (547): 356–87.
Vicente, Pedro C., and Wantchekon, Leonard. 2000. “Clientelism and Vote Buying: Lessons from Field Experiments in African Elections.” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 25 (2): 292305.
Wantchekon, Leonard. 2003. “Clientelism and Voting Behavior: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Benin.” World Politics 55 (3): 399422.
Weingrod, Alex. 1968. “Patrons, Patronage, and Political Parties.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 10 (4): 377400.
Whitfield, Lindsay. 2015. Moving Beyond Neo-Patrimonialism: Ole Therkildsen’s Contribution to Understanding Politics in Africa. In Perspectives on Politics, Production and Public Administration in Africa: Essays in Honour of Ole Therkildsen, ed. Mette Kjaer, Anne, Lars Engberg-Pedersen and Lars Buur. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies pp. 243–54.
Williams, Malcolm. 2000. “Interpretivism and Generalisation.” Sociology 34 (2): 209–24.
Willott, Chris. 2011. “‘Get to the Bridge and I Will Help You to Cross’: Merit, Personal Connections and Money in Access to Nigerian Higher Education.” Africa Spectrum 46 (1): 85108.
World Bank. 2004. “Making Services Work for Poor People.” World Bank Report. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTMENA/Resources/Chief-Economist/PDF/report.pdf
Young, Daniel J. 2009. “Is Clientelism at Work in African Elections? A Study of Voting Behavior in Kenya and Zambia.” Afrobarometer Working Paper No. 106.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed