In many African states, voters and civil society typically play only a minor role in policymaking. Information about constituent preferences reaches politicians infrequently and unsystematically. This could mean that elected politicians are underinformed and/or under-incentivized to act in the interest of constituents. This project uses an experiment to estimate the impact of new information about voter’s preferences on their representatives’ stated preferences and legislative behavior. In June 2014, the Civil Society Coalition to Stop Maternal, Newborn, and Child Mortality in Uganda polled voters around the country on the extent to which they supported budget increases in health, and the extent to which they were likely to hold their elected representatives to account for failure to deliver adequate health services. The poll revealed that health was the most salient issue for voters and had grown in importance relative to other issues over the past years. Unsurprisingly, a majority of Ugandans felt that their representatives were doing lessthan they should to address systematic failures in service delivery, and reported that this fact was likely to drive their future voting decisions. This information was then distributed to some randomly selected Members of Parliament (MPs) and not others ahead of the final vote on the health budget. Using a petition, we are able to show that learning about citizen priorities pushed MPs, when contacted, to publicly support budget increases for health service provision at a higher rate than their colleagues without this information. Interestingly, treated (informed) MPs were less likely to respond to the petition at all. When it came to the budget, however, it passed unamended and without increases in spending. We interpret this result as illustrative of the extent to which politicians feel their actual actions in Parliament are hidden.
Recent and upcoming events
Does the simple repetition of multi-party elections help to expand civil liberties and political rights? Do multi-party elections, no matter how unfree and unfair they may be, over time help to bring about a transition to democracy? In a series of influential publications, Staffan Lindberg has argued yes, based on his African data. Other scholars have been unable to find the same pattern in Latin America and the postcommunist states of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Moreover, Bogaards (2013, 2014) has recently cast doubt on the African evidence. The one region where the thesis of democratisation through elections has not been tested, so far, is Asia. This presentation seeks to fill that gap by explicitly engaging in "comparative regional democratization" or the application of comparative area studies to the study of democratization. Concretely, the paper asks whether the causal mechanisms and outcomes that Lindberg claims to have found in Africa can also be demonstrated in Asia. The answer to this question will help us with the identification of possible regionally specific processes of democratization.
About the presenter:
Matthijs Bogaards is the Van Zyl Slabbert Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Studies at UCT. He studied at the universities of Leiden, UC Berkeley, and the European University Institute in Florence and has taught at the University of Southampton, Jacobs University Bremen, the Central European University in Budapest, and the University for Peace in Costa Rica. His research interests include democracy in divided societies, deliberative democracy, comparative area studies, and African politics.
Donors have been using various strategies to promote democracy in developing countries. In the mid-1990s, building civil society came to the fore amongst donors influenced by Putnam’s publication, Making Democracy Work, on the importance of social capital for good governance. Putnam concluded that horizontal networks of civic engagement strengthen the performance of a polity. Donors have been stressing vibrant civic engagement since then. This research is to find a correlation between donors’ assistance to foster civil society and civic engagement in 18 sub-Saharan African countries using Afrobarometer survey data
Much of Judge Farlam’s report on the Marikina Commission of Inquiry reads like a list of lies and cover-ups by senior members of the South African Police Service (SAPS). In this presentation, I explore how these lies are part of an entrenched culture of deceit in the SAPS. Drawing on examples from recent ethnographic fieldwork I describe the types of misleading performances officers enact to ease performance pressure and satiate public scrutiny in their daily duties. In so doing I suggest that because the SAPS is often unable to achieve what is expected of it, and because of the general precarity of life for those employed by the SAPS, officers present façades of accomplishment to ward off organisational and public scrutiny. But because they constantly deceive, their performances contribute to their own suspicion and mistrust of the public and of each other, and so shape the way they do their work. Four trends in organisational deception are discussed: 1) Public performance lies, 2) Data lies, 3) Internal and External Lies, which lead to and are connected by a 4) Culture of suspicion. I suggest that the intersections between officers’ personal aspirations and their tendencies to deceive, contribute to the SAPS’ vulnerability to political abuse.
About the Presenter:
Andrew Faull is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Cape Town’s Centre of Criminology. He recently completed his doctorate on personal identity and police work at the University of Oxford, before which he was a Senior Researcher in the Crime and Justice Programme and the Institute for Security Studies. He is currently working on a book with the working title Accidental Police Officers: Personal identity, precarity and police work in South Africa
This book presents a comprehensive theory of why human freedom gave way to increasing oppression since the invention of states – and why this trend began to reverse itself more recently, leading to a rapid expansion of universal freedoms and democracy. Drawing on a massive body of evidence, the author tests various explanations of the rise of freedom, providing convincing support of a well-reasoned theory of emancipation. The study demonstrates multiple trends toward human empowerment, which converge to give people control over their lives. Most important among these trends is the spread of “emancipative values,” which emphasize free choice and equal opportunities. The author identifies the desire for emancipation as the origin of the human empowerment trend and shows when and why this desire grows strong; why it is the source of democracy; and how it vitalizes civil society, feeds humanitarian norms, enhances happiness, and helps redirect modern civilization toward sustainable development.
The book won the Alexander L. George Award 2014 (International Society of Political Psychology) as well as the Stein Rokkan Prize 2014 (European Consortium of Political Research).
In 2009 the African National Congress (ANC) won their fourth successive term as South Africa’s ruling party. Consequentially, this meant that their party leader, Jacob Zuma, became South Africa’s fourth democratic president. Prior to his appointment, the South African news media was rife with criticism of Zuma over his recent rape charges, his views of women, his polygamous beliefs, and his involvement in the South African Arms Deal Saga, yet was often referred to as "the populist". Fast forward to Nelson Mandela's memorial service in December 2013, and suddenly the crowd is singin a different tune. Every time President Zuma took the stage, boos echoed through the stadium.
This introduces an interesting question about the South African people and the way they shape their evaluations of presidents. Is it based upon who the president is (their identity), how their government has performed, or what South Africans know or see? My thesis is a quantitative study using IDASA and Afrobarometer data to test three competing hypotheses (Identity, Performance Evaluation and Cognitive Awareness) in trying to explain how South Africans shape their evaluations of their president between 1997 and 2011.
A recently completed masters dissertation in Sociology through the Family Studies Research Unit (FamSRu) at the CSSR produced findings on couples’ experiences of homebirth. Conceptualised in response to the scant attention given to men’s experiences and the almost non-existing literature on South African couples experiences. Unlike previous couple studies however, this study illustrates gender as a central aspect of homebirth narratives, the birth itself being key to the negotiation of femininity and masculinity. Adopting a relational gender framework - theoretically and methodologically - narrative constructions of homebirth highlight simultaneous operations of gender as both opportunity and constraint.
In their constructions of relational masculinities, homebirthing men distinguished between “being there”, understood in the fatherhoods literature as physical ‘presence’, with the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of ‘presence’. The findings revealed a “selfless masculinity” partially at odds with broader cultural expectations of men as the family breadwinner. On the other hand women’s focus on their bodies meant that their constructions of “self-reliant femininity”, whilst less at odds with broader cultural expectations of women as primary caregivers, significantly reconfigured women (and men’s) relationships to the birthing body. Rich data and careful analysis generated detailed insights into the research topic that produced alternative knowledge of women and men’s interrelated, everyday, relational gendered lives.
The South African National Election Study (SANES) consists of a series of post-election surveys of the electorate that have been carried out after each of the country’s post-apartheid elections. It is also part of two separate cross national projects, the Comparative National Elections Project and the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. In this presentation, Robert Mattes will introduce people to the content of the SANES and then examine selected key overtime trends in voter attitudes and evaluations, including results from the most recent study carried out after the 2014 election.
So-called “coloureds” occupied an important, intermediate, and often buffering position during apartheid and continue to be a significant part of the South African political and economic landscape today. Considering "coloureds’" intermediate and often precarious position, this research seeks to understand how "coloureds" perceive their position in contemporary South Africa. Specifically, in this paper I analyze two waves of the Southern African Barometer, and supplement with preliminary findings from qualitative interviews, to determine whether persons who self-identify as “coloured” perceive their group as deprived and gratified compared to “white” and “black” South Africans, respectively. I inform this analysis with relative deprivation theory, which makes predictions about individuals’ and groups’ perceptions of disadvantage (or gratification) relative to another individual or group. I extend the theory to apply to “coloureds” who were once simultaneously dominant and subordinate. I contend such an analysis allows us speculate/deduce key information about how South Africans perceive their positions and experiences within the racial hierarchy. Contrary to my expectations, I found that "coloureds" reported the highest levels of economic and treatment deprivation. I argue heightened perceptions of deprivation are a characteristic of the multiple social comparisons that must be made by “coloureds” today.
This article investigates the effect of democratisation on political budget cycles (PBCs). Challenging the existing literature, we demonstrate that democratisation has a non-linear effect on PBCs along the regime spectrum: positive at the autocratic end, negative at the democratic end. We explain this finding by the countervailing effects of executive constraints and political competition as two dimensions of democratisation. While the former contains PBCs, the latter stimulates them. Because of the empirical covariation between the two, PBCs occur primarily in hybrid regimes where executive decision-making powers are relatively unrestricted and politics is beginning to be competitive. We also show that while executive constraints and political competition condition PBCs, what triggers the fluctuations is electoral competitiveness. Only when incumbents fear electoral defeat, do they create PBCs. The study is based on a new dataset on public spending in 87 non-OECD countries, covering the period from 1960 to 2006.
Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford. His research in comparative politics and political economy focuses on electoral mobilisation, manipulation, and dispute resolution. Prior to commencing his doctoral research, Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira spent five years with the UN in Bangladesh, Mozambique, and Ethiopia, as a political advisor and democratic governance specialist. He holds MSc and BSc degrees in politics from the University of Copenhagen