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State Failure and Challenges to Democratization in Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2009

Michael Bratton
Affiliation:
Michigan State University

Extract

This lean volume digs into the roots of African politics by exploring the foundations of political order. The author sees state formation as originating in rulers' political decisions about how to extract wealth from society. Specifically, do they use coercion—the defining attribute of state power—to protect their subjects or to prey on them? If rulers—whom he characterizes as “specialists in violence”—calculate that their own political and economic interests are best served by taxing production, they will establish the infrastructure of a bureaucratic state. If, however, they conclude that the costs of providing protection to society's producers outweigh the expected benefits, then they will be tempted to turn the state apparatus into an instrument of predation.

Type
Review Symposium
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2009

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References

Bratton, Michael, and Chang, Eric. 2006. “State Building and Democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Forwards, Backwards, or Together?” Comparative Political Studies 39 (9): 1059–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chabal, Patrick, and Daloz, Jean-Pascal. 1999. Africa Works: Disorder as a Political Instrument. Oxford: James Curry.Google Scholar
Diamond, Larry, and Morlino, Leonardo, eds. 2005. Assessing the Quality of Democracy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar