The last part of this book aims at synthesis. It offers general answers to several broad questions about contemporary African realities. How do popular constituencies develop, either for or against reform (see Chapter 11)? What is the nature of mass participation in new multiparty regimes (see Chapter 12)? Are democracies consolidating anywhere on the continent (see Chapter 13)?
The present chapter summarizes lessons learned about the sources of democratic and market attitudes. It integrates the sociological, cultural, cognitive, rational, and institutional approaches reviewed in Part III. Instead of treating each explanatory family separately, we now blend all approaches into exhaustive models. In so doing, we aim to eliminate spurious findings that do not hold up when exposed to a wide array of controls. Our main objective is to derive encompassing explanations that are both statistically powerful and efficient as theory. Above all, we wish to weigh the effectiveness of competing explanations about the origins of African public opinion.
The paths to opinion formation are discussed in broad, theoretical terms. In order to achieve generality, we adopt a universal language about the demand for and supply of reforms that was first introduced at the beginning of this book. We also use generic terms to sum up the impacts of explanatory families, for instance referring to “social structure” writ large rather than to its component elements like, say, gender. Multivariate regression and path analysis are used to assay which families deserve inclusion in final explanatory models.