State and Society

  • William Tordoff


At independence leaders of the nationalist movements in Africa, or of the victorious political parties in the elections of the decolonisation period, came to power and became ministers, MPs and, in some cases, regional and district governors/commissioners. However, they had mostly not been adequately trained by the colonial government and had limited experience of operating a governmental system on a national scale. A vitally important question was whether these new rulers would be able to adapt to their own purposes the structures of power established within the former colonial state. Their inheritance normally included the essential machinery of government (notably a legislature, executive and judiciary at the centre and — in Anglophone Africa above all — the rudiments of a representative local government system at the base). As noted in the Introduction, adaptation generally proved easier in Francophone African states (which followed the Gaullist constitutional model with its stress on firm executive leadership) than in Anglophone countries which initially adopted Westminster-type constitutions. However, within ten years at most of independence, the latter had been discarded almost everywhere in favour of executive presidencies and one-party state systems.


Political Behaviour African State Urban Worker Class Consciousness Cultural Pluralism 
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Further Reading

  1. Allen, C. and Williams, G. (eds), Sociology of Developing Societies: Sub-Saharan Africa (London: Macmillan, 1982).Google Scholar
  2. Baianas, J. L., Coulon, C. and Gastellu, J.-M., Autonomie Locale et Integration Nationale au Sénégal (Paris: Editions A. Pedone, 1975).Google Scholar
  3. Herbst, J., State Politics in Zimbabwe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  4. Melson, R. and Wolpe, H. (eds), Nigeria: Modernization and the Politics of Communalism (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  5. Molteno, R., ‘Cleavage and Conflict in Zambian Politics: A Study in Sectionalism’, in Tordoff W. (ed.), Politics in Zambia (Manchester University Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  6. O’Brien, D. B. Cruise, Saints and Politicians: Essays in the Organisation of a Senegalese Peasant Society (London: Cambridge University Press, 1975).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Rothchild, D. and Chazan, N. (eds), The Precarious Balance: State and Society in Africa (Boulder: Westview Press, 1988).Google Scholar
  8. Rothchild, D., and Olorunsola, V. A. (eds), State versus Ethnic Claims: African Policy Dilemmas (Boulder: Westview Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  9. Sandbrook, R., ‘Patrons, Clients and Factions: New Dimensions of Conflict Analysis in Africa’, Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol.v, no.1 (March 1972).Google Scholar
  10. Sandbrook, R. and Cohen, R. (eds), The Development of an African Working Class: Studies in Class Formation and Action (University of Toronto Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  11. Sklar, R. L. and Whitaker, C. S., African Politics and Problems in Development (Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1991).Google Scholar
  12. Young, C., The Politics of Cultural Pluralism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© William Tordoff 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Tordoff
    • 1
  1. 1.DerbyshireUK

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