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Collective Action, Clientelism and Connectivity

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  • Mahvish Shami

    ()
    (Institute of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

Backed by a range of studies finding only limited propensity for free-riding when communities have an interest in self provision, the last few decades have seen a surge of interest in community based development amongst international organisations. A major caveat to the ‘second wave’ of collective action studies, however, is that collective action will often break down under hierarchical social relationships. This is unfortunate news for rural societies in developing countries, as these are often entrenched in patron-client networks. And while studies of collective action under clientelism are in short supply, the few that exist are generally pessimistic. This paper argues, however, that clientelist relations are highly context-specific, which matters a great deal for their implications for collective action. Making use of a natural experiment in rural Punjab, Pakistan, the paper finds that the unequal relationship between landlords and peasants does not, in and by itself, block peasant collective action. Rather, it is the interaction between clientelism and isolation that allow patrons to block community based projects. Despite still relying on powerful landlords, peasants in connected villages face no such constraints. On the contrary, their patrons assisted them in their collective endeavours, making the hierarchical network an added resource for peasants to rely upon.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics in its series IFRO Working Paper with number 2010/14.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:foi:wpaper:2010_14

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Keywords: Collective action; Clientelism; Interlinked markets; Rural road networks; Pakistan;

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References

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  2. Mahvish Shami, 2010. "The Impact of Market Exposure on Public Goods Provision," IFRO Working Paper 2010/13, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics.
  3. Fox, Jonathan A, 1994. "The Difficult Transition from Clientelism to Citizenship: Lessons from Mexico," Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series qt4n4746hk, Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz.
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Cited by:
  1. Azam Chaudhry & Kate Vyborny, 2013. "Patronage in Rural Punjab: Evidence from a New Household Survey Dataset," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 18(Special E), pages 183-209, September.

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