Social Groupings

  • Naomi Chazan
  • Peter Lewis
  • Robert Mortimer
  • Donald Rothchild
  • Stephen John Stedman


Political life in Africa is conducted through a complex web of social forces, institutional settings, and interpersonal relationships. If government structures furnish the context for official interactions in the public domain, social groups constitute the fundamental building blocks of political action and interchange. In Chapter 2, we demonstrated that it is difficult to understand the state in Africa, and consequently to assess its capacity to formulate and implement policy, without probing its social underpinnings. Most studies of contemporary Africa, cast either in the modernization, dependency, or statist molds, have emphasized the importance of class and ethnicity in determining the social roots of public institutions. African social and material life, however, revolves, in the first instance, around a medley of more compact organizations, networks, groupings, associations, and movements that have evolved over the centuries in response to changing circumstances. Although they frequently serve disparate interests, vary widely in composition, operate in many different ways, and have altered substantially over time, these groups have consistently formed a broad tapestry of social, political, and economic communication. The political interaction approach suggests that it is vital to begin with a closer look at these arenas of social exchange.


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Copyright information

© Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi Chazan
  • Peter Lewis
  • Robert Mortimer
  • Donald Rothchild
  • Stephen John Stedman

There are no affiliations available

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