From the Global Corruption Paradigm to the Study of Informal Practices: Outsiders vs. Insiders
The article compares two approaches to the analysis of corruption: the global corruption paradigm — a downstream view on corruption promoted by international organisations and policy makers, the so-called outsiders, and the analysis of informal practices — an upstream, or bottom-up, perspective of insiders, which contextualises motives and meaning of corrupt practices. The global corruption paradigm rests on the premises that corruption can be defined, measured and controlled. Since the 1990s, data on corruption have been systematically collected and monitored, yet there has been little progress in combatting the phenomenon across the globe. Success cases are rare, and policy makers are increasingly dissatisfied with existing indicators and approaches to anti-corruption policies. On the one hand, the paper articulates the critique of assumptions, preconceptions and methodology implicit in the prevailing corruption paradigm. We question the cultural and historical neutrality of the definition of corruption, problems with its measurement, and implications for policy-making. On the other hand, the paper argues for the ‘disaggregation’ of the corruption paradigm and the necessity to integrate local knowledge and insiders’ perspectives into corruption studies. The combination of the two approaches will provide for more effective ways of tackling the challenges of corruption, especially in endemically corrupt systems.
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