From patronage to neopatrimonialism: Postcolonial governance in Sub-Sahara Africa and beyond

D.T. Beekers, S.M. van Gool

Research output: Working paperProfessional

Abstract

Even if ‘good governance’ goals have dominated public policy in postcolonial polities in the last decades, their politics and public administration often continue to be marked by authoritarianism, nepotism and corruption – the very practices good governance policy was to eradicate. In this article, we try to account for this apparent intractability of ‘poor’ and, occasionally, outright ‘bad’ governance. First, we argue that what appears as ‘bad’ governance to those embracing conventional, essentially Weberian, ‘good governance’ conceptions, may in fact be ‘good’ governance after all. Practices of political clientelism or patronage may reflect and accord with widely shared cultural beliefs about good and legitimate governance. Second, we show that the predominance of personalism and unofficial relationships that characterizes political clientelism may combine with modern bureaucracy in ways that drastically subvert the type of ‘good governance’ embodied by traditional moral economies of patronage. We dissect the logics of neopatrimonialism, a type of regime in which ruling elites use the state for personal enrichment and profit from a public administration that is patently unstable, inefficient, nontransparent and that fails to distribute public resources to large segments of the population. Third, we argue that the pragmatic survival strategies to which ‘ordinary’ citizens resort in response to such neopatrimonial neglect often, and ironically, entail the direct engagement with – rather than an outright distancing from – neopatrimonial politics.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherAfrican Studies Centre
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameASC Working Paper
Volume101

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good governance
clientelism
governance
public administration
survival strategy
politics
authoritarianism
bureaucracy
corruption
neglect
pragmatics
profit
public policy
elite
regime
citizen
economy
resources

Cite this

Beekers, D. T., & van Gool, S. M. (2012). From patronage to neopatrimonialism: Postcolonial governance in Sub-Sahara Africa and beyond. (ASC Working Paper; Vol. 101). Leiden: African Studies Centre.
Beekers, D.T. ; van Gool, S.M. / From patronage to neopatrimonialism: Postcolonial governance in Sub-Sahara Africa and beyond. Leiden : African Studies Centre, 2012. (ASC Working Paper).
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Beekers, DT & van Gool, SM 2012 'From patronage to neopatrimonialism: Postcolonial governance in Sub-Sahara Africa and beyond' ASC Working Paper, vol. 101, African Studies Centre, Leiden.

From patronage to neopatrimonialism: Postcolonial governance in Sub-Sahara Africa and beyond. / Beekers, D.T.; van Gool, S.M.

Leiden : African Studies Centre, 2012. (ASC Working Paper; Vol. 101).

Research output: Working paperProfessional

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Beekers DT, van Gool SM. From patronage to neopatrimonialism: Postcolonial governance in Sub-Sahara Africa and beyond. Leiden: African Studies Centre. 2012. (ASC Working Paper).