Corruption as a Political Phenomenon

Chapter
Part of the International Economic Association Series book series (IEA)

Abstract

Corruption—the appropriate of public resources for private purposes—is a modern phenomenon insofar as modern states are founded on the principle of the strict separation of public and private. This was not the case for much of human history, where “patrimonial” rulers regarded the public domain as a species of private property. Corruption needs to be distinguished from both rent-seeking and patronage/clientelism—in the first case, because many rents have perfectly legitimate uses, and in the second because clientelism involves a reciprocal exchange of favors and can be regarded as an early form of democratic participation. Moving from a patronage-based state to a modern-impersonal one is a fundamentally political act, since it involves wresting power away from entrenched elites who use their access to the state for private purposes. This is what happened during the Progressive Era in the US, and also what explains the relative success of anti-corruption bodies like Indonesia’s KPK.

Keywords

Corruption Development Clientelism Patronage Rent-seeking 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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