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Title: Liberalism, economic adjustment and political reform in southern Africa : conditionality and processes of adjustment
Author: Lloyd, Peter
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis engages with the literature on democratisation and aid conditionality in Africa, using a critical realist approach and methodology to consider the extent to which the use and content of conditionality supports or hinders the progress of democracy on the continent with particular respect to Malawi and Zambia. It draws on a wealth of original information garnered from approximately forty interviews done in those two countries which underpin one of its key claims to originality. It will be argued that the position taken in most of the orthodox liberal literature and by the World Bank, which asserts that economic liberalisation is a necessary, if not entirely sufficient, condition for the long term consolidation of democracy in Africa, is based on a simplistic and partial analysis. Firstly, on the normative level, the notion that there is a close association between free market economics and democracy is highly problematic, and inevitably means that a naixow, minimally democratic political model is selected; the relationship between the two is far less comfortable and riven with tensions. Secondly, the use of conditionality implies the imposition of externally determined policy, interfering with the autonomy of these democracies. Thirdly, the policies applied have affected the social structures in recipient countries, affecting the resources (social and material) available to different groups to participate in democratic political practice and, ironically, have also had a significant impact upon the likelihood, opportunities and necessity for various Idnds of coiTupt or patrimonial practice. Many previous studies have fallen into the trap of presenting a series of binary oppositions in seeking to address these issues. Thus, the lack of democratic progress in Africa is often seen as a consequence of either external or internal factors, or of either inappropriate policies of conditionality or corrupt government. For liberal writers, the partial implementation of conditionality tends to be taken as evidence of its unimportance as a causal factor underlying this situation. In the thesis, I argue that in examining the progress of and prospects for democracy in Africa, we certainly need to take "internal" factors such as patrimonialism seriously, but that to position these in simple opposition to "external" ones is not helpful and to do so only serves to deflect attention from the deficiencies of aid policies. Rather, we need to go beyond positivist approaches that seek to uncover correlations and isolate causal variables in pursuit of an explanation and pursue a more complex approach that affords room for analysis of multiple causes and conditions, their intenelationships and mutually conditioning effects. Thus, foiinstance, patrimonialism needs to be seen not just as a set of indigenous practices, but as part of a set of social relations that also mediate between the internal and external and are affected by both. Critical realism provides the means of doing this, with its emphasis on complex multiple causality. It also avoids the trap of a resort simply to aggregating different sets of causes. It allows one to argue that although practices of aid conditionality may not be the only inhibitor of democracy in Africa, they represent a significant obstacle to the realisation of adequate forms of democracy there. The substantive work in the thesis consists of an exploration of the uneven, but still significant, processes of democratisation in Zambia and Malawi, drawing on fieldwork consisting primarily of about forty interviews. Although some of what is presented in this part of the thesis is specific to those countries, I will make some conclusions concerning wider lessons that can be learned concerning practices of conditionality and theory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available