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Structural Stability: meaning, scope and use in an African context


  • Andreas Mehler


This article inquires into the potential meaning of a technical term originally used in natural sciences and introduced by the OECD DAC and the European Commission into the rhetoric of development co-operation in the face of growing violent conflicts in Africa. The need to clarify the scope of the leitmotif leads to a balanced interpretation of slightly differing official definitions. This exercise shows that there are political, economic, ecological and social ingredients of Structural Stability - (with clear emphasis on political goals) - that, in the end, all serve the capacity of individuals, groups and institutions to manage change without resorting to violent conflict. What matters most here is the assumption that all these elements (7) are explicitly interlinked and mutually reinforcing. The article confronts this new leitmotif with prior reflections on a complex "peace system" in the framework of the "civilisational hexagon" (Senghaas). It gives indications how the concept could be turned operational and addresses a number of open questions (state-centrism, priorities and sequencing, etc.).

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Mehler, 2002. "Structural Stability: meaning, scope and use in an African context," Africa Spectrum, Institute of African Affairs, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 37(1), pages 5-23.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:afjour:v:37:y:2002:i:1:p:5-23

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    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Mehler & Hans-Christian Mahnke, 2005. "Major Flaws in Conflict Prevention Policies towards Africa. The Conceptual Deficits of International Actors’ Approaches and How to Overcome Them," Economic History 0508001, EconWPA.

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