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Title: Domination and personal legitimacy in a district of eastern Liberia
Author: Brown, D. W.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 7870
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1979
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The study is concerned with the relationships between the legitimation of the State and the legitimation of the status of the individual in an administrative district of Eastern Liberia. There are three sections. In the first, background data essential to the exposition of the main theme is presented. The history of the District in the period prior to, and following, the establishment of Liberian rule is reviewed (Chapter 2), to show the ways in which the political structure , of the region was conducive to a colonial-style occupation, and to a process of incorporation involving minimum accommodation to existing interests. Present-day economic conditions are reviewed (Chapter 3) to establish the low level of socialization of the relations of production, and the limited extent of the penetration of market forces into the District. It is argued, however, that the District has not remained isolated in other ways from forces emanating from the State, and that incorporation has involved extraction of value on a considerable scale, in the name of the Liberian government. Three types of transfer (taxation, labour and land) are considered, which substantiate this theme (Chapter 4). The following section (Section B) is concerned with the ways in which these relationships of imbalance are stabilized and legitimated. First, the role of administrative employment in the process of incorporation is considered, focussing on the manner in which the allocation of resources, vis-a-vis the redistribution of wealth by the State, appears to be patterned according to a set of 'rules' of political competition (Chapters 5 and 6). These rules both introduce an element of predictability into government affairs, and yet, paradoxically, force the local population to accept a considerable degree of uncertainty in their relations with the government. In Chapter 7, consideration is given to the manner in which influences referred to in preceding chapters foster an idiosyncratic image of 'government' in the District, an image which serves both to extend the sphere of bureaucratic influence into the community and to create legitimacy for the established order, thereby. The two subsequent chapters are concerned, firstly, with the ways in which communitarian sentiments tend to become a focus for a counter-culture which draws upon the tribal - civilized contrast implicit in the dominant ideology of the State, and with the ways in which the politically divisive implications of this tendency are mitigated by forces at the local level (Chapter 8). Secondly, the manner in which Christianity in the District tends to support, rather than challenge, existing political relations is established (Chapter 9). Finally, (Section C), an extended case-study concerning a congressional election and an important political trial which followed this election is examined, to illustrate the ways in which the themes considered in the previous chapters relate to the actual processes of politics at the local level. It is argued that political trials such as the one under consideration function as important ritual events. The necessity for such rituals is related both to factors discussed earlier in the study and to conventional theory of ritual. It is suggested that contradictions exist within the structure of 'rules' fostered by the central government, and that the latter employs ritual techniques to segregate out from this structure those roles and relationships which are, at any one time, conducive to the maintenance of its interests in the hinterland.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available