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Oil Wealth and the Poverty of Politics
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Book description

How can we make sense of Algeria's post-colonial experience - the tragedy of unfulfilled expectations, the descent into violence, the resurgence of the state? Oil Wealth and the Poverty of Politics explains why Algeria's domestic political economy unravelled from the mid-1980s, and how the regime eventually managed to regain power and hegemony. Miriam Lowi argues the importance of leadership decisions for political outcomes, and extends the argument to explain the variation in stability in oil-exporting states following economic shocks. Comparing Algeria with Iran, Iraq, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, she asks why some states break down and undergo regime change, while others remain stable, or manage to re-stabilise after a period of instability. In contrast with exclusively structuralist accounts of the rentier state, this book demonstrates, in a fascinating and accessible study, that political stability is a function of the way in which structure and agency combine.


“It is an intellectual tour-de-force that contrasts the variation to economic shocks the author finds in her study of Algeria to that of Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. A highly recommended book for anyone interested in Algeria’s tortuous path since its independence, in the problems of development in general, and in those of hydrocarbon economies in particular. Meticulously researched, and broadly comparative in scope, this book is a welcome addition both to the study of Algeria and to the larger theoretical question that provides its focus.”
– Diederik Vandewalle, Middle East Journal

" Oil Wealth and the Poverty of Politics is not only a well-written case study of Algeria, tracing its political trajectory from independence, but also a well documented study of rentier states. Its comparative perspective reveals the importance of leadership choices over natural resource endowments."-Jean-Marc Kilolo-Malambwe, Institut de la statistique du Québec, African Studies Review

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