Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa

Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa

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This book presents a theory to account for why and when politics revolves around one axis of social cleavage instead of another. It does so by examining the case of Zambia, where people identify themselves either as members of one of the country's seventy-three tribes or as members of one of its four principal language groups. The book accounts for the conditions under which Zambian political competition revolves around tribal differences and under which it revolves around language group differences. Drawing on a simple model of identity choice, it shows that the answer depends on whether the country operates under single-party or multi-party rule. During periods of single-party rule, tribal identities serve as the axis of electoral mobilization and self-identification; during periods of multi-party rule, broader language group identities play this role. The book thus demonstrates how formal institutional rules determine the kinds of social cleavages that matter in politics.

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  • Paperback | 360 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.1 x 22.9mm | 521.64g
  • CambridgeUnited Kingdom
  • English
  • New.
  • 36 b/w illus. 17 tables
  • 0521541794
  • 9780521541794
  • 1,694,564

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'... a well-researched, rich, sophisticated and lively analysis of ethnic politics in Zambia. ... a fascinating account of changes in the dimensions of ethnic identity in Zambian politics. [Posner's] work is, perhaps, the only book that dwells exclusively on why politicians shift from one ethnic card to another. The details he presents about ethnic and language group formation and about perceptions of ethnic favouritism make the book interesting and a must read.' Journal of Modern African Studies 'Posner's book should still be recognised as an important contribution to understanding the relationship between politics and ethnicity in Africa.' Journal Compilation ASEN '... well written and well researched. ... a good read and will be useful for any graduate class on African politics.' Political Studies Review

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About Daniel N. Posner

Daniel N. Posner is Assistant Professor of Political Science at UCLA. His research focuses on ethnic politics, regime change, and the political economy of development in Africa. He has published articles in numerous journals including the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, and the British Journal of Political Science. He has received grants or fellowships from the Russell Sage Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He has been a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and is currently a Carnegie Scholar of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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