Governance, aid and political economy

Man selling dates at a market

Case studies:

Development policies of Central and Eastern Europe: from aid recipients to donors

This research explores the journey of states from aid recipients to aid donors and whether the development cooperation programmes of the majority of CEESs reflect the so-called "transition experience" of moving from authoritarianism and socialism to democracy and modern liberalism.

Global corruption and state governance in Africa

This research explores the dynamics of global corruption networks and their impacts on governance and development in Africa. In particular, our research unpacks theories about the nature of “gatekeeper states” in Africa and how shifting constellations of state power and capitalism are generating new forms of rent-seeking behaviour and alternative patterns of accumulation.

Our researchers examine the implications this has for African states’ developmental capacities, as well as the manner in which power is reproduced by political elites through forms of “gatekeeper politics”. We focus on forms of both “elite” political patronage (political positions, authority, elite jobs, business contracts) and also “mass”, impersonal forms of patronage (such as state welfare).

Our researchers also explore the impacts that predatory forms of rent-seeking can have on African societies and public wellbeing. They explore the implications for the health sector. They examine how this plays out in health governance and diplomacy as African elites leverage their dependency to subvert global power structures for their own ends. They also interrogate how ordinary citizens navigate networks of corruption and political patronage in the by deploying forms of “dependent agency” as a means of alleviating the impacts of the structural inequalities they encounter on a daily basis.

Our researchers also examine the transnational dynamics of rent-seeking behaviour in extractive economies, including how contestations over access to clientelistic networks in resource rich areas can become a major focal point of violence. Current research projects also include explorations of how corruption and fraud are practiced in the corporate sector and the implications this has for our understandings of “moral economy”.

Our case studies include South Africa, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda.

Hybrid political orders

This research examines the dynamics of authoritarianism and democracy in the developing world. We are particularly interested in authoritarian resilience and legitimacy, hybrid and transitional regimes, democracy at the grassroots level, the quality of democratic systems, and international relations between authoritarian and democratic states.

While on the one hand many ruling parties might (to varying degrees) demonstrate the outer appearance of consolidated democracies, in terms of institutions and the ostensive practice of procedural norms such as elections, these parties may simultaneously practice undemocratic or even authoritarian forms of governance to defend their interests. Our researchers explore this liminal space “betwixt and between” authoritarianism and democracy and how ruling parties draw from a range of authoritarian and democratic norms of governance to reproduce their power.

Our researchers explore the impact this has on the relationship between states and their citizens. This includes how, and to what extent, dissent might be tolerated, and also what norms of deliberation are practiced by these governments when setting their developmental agendas. We also explore how opposition in these hybrid and authoritarian political orders are dealt with, including how histories of past violence and atrocities are contested and controlled by political elites, including their manipulation of transitional justice processes.

Our current research explores how this can generate forms of political abjection in the public sphere, wherein sources of opposition are framed as wider threats to a nation’s health, identity and prosperity, warranting potentially illiberal sanction by incumbent governments.

Our case studies include Egypt, Thailand, South Africa, China, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

Neoliberalism and the moral economy of fraud

Exploring neoliberalism as a political-economic and cultural programme of restructuring norms, values, orientations, and practices with special emphasis on the dynamics of moral restructuring. Specific focus is on the changing moral economies of earning a living, fraud, power and poverty, and how aspects of political economy and moral economy are intertwined and interact.

School specialists include:

Dr Simon Lightfoot

Dr Winnie Bedigen

Dr Jörg Wiegratz

Professor Ray Bush

Dr Akin Iwilade

Dr Alexander Beresford

Dr Emma-Louise Anderson

Dr Kingsley Edney

Professor Duncan McCargo

Dr Adam Tyson