The State as Lame Leviathan: The Patrimonial Administrative State in Africa

  • Thomas M. Callaghy

Abstract

Recent discontent with the notions of the state and state formation in the African context and an accompanying preoccupation with the ‘decline of the state’ has much to do with the way that the state and state formation have been conceptualized. There has been much discussion of late of the ‘overdeveloped’, ‘underdeveloped’, or ‘soft’ state, plus ‘uncaptured’ populations and ‘exit options’. These notions were a reaction to the shattered illusions of a post-colonial voluntarist view of the state that was held by many analysts and actors alike. It had various modernization, democratic, neo-colonial, socialist and revolutionary versions. There was an assumption of malleability of both state and society, of linear success and increasing strength that has been increasingly belied by evidence of uneven (and even diminishing) control, resilience of traditional authority patterns, poor economic performance, debt and infrastructure crises, the emergence of magendo or second economies, reductions in administrative performance, curtailment of capacities, political instability and resistance and withdrawal. Underlying these new discussions is often a tone of surprise and bewilderment. Believing that a broader historical, comparative and analytic perspective is useful, this chapter will present and delineate the notion of the patrimonial administrative state as the underlying form of domination in Africa today, above which floats a host of varying and changing ‘regime types’.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Zaki Ergas 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas M. Callaghy

There are no affiliations available

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