DFG-Project „The Demand Side of Clientelism" - Design and Objectives
Design and Objectives
A large literature in “mainstream” political science has emerged to shed light on how political clientelism operates. This literature
- is largely motivated by negative impact of political clientelism on democratic accountability, equity, and public goods provision.
- has focused particularly on one form of clientelism: vote buying.
- has focused mainly on the supply side of clientelism (i.e. the party or patron strategies), and on the mechanics of the exchange (the role of monitoring vs. reciprocity to sustain the exchange, the role of brokers, etc.), thereby neglecting the client’s point of view.
In contrast, a largely unconnected “ethnographic” literature on political clientelism
- often emphasizes the client’s agency.
- highlights that clientelism takes many forms other than vote buying.
- takes a more positive normative stance towards clientelism, in framing it as one way of coping within the limitations of real existing democracies.
The main aim of this project is to study systematically the demand side of clientelism. This implies shedding light on:
- Factors that influence the demand for clientelism, including material/ rational, as well as psychological factors.
- The prevalence of different forms of clientelism, such as vote buying or “traditional” clientelism.
- The client’s trade-offs involved in engaging in clientelism.
- The welfare implications of clientelism.
Our project focuses on South Africa and Tunisia and uses different methodological approaches. These include:
- Conceptualizing formal theoretical models to clarify trade-offs involved in different forms of clientelism and to derive hypotheses for the empirical work.
- A systematic review of ethnographic literature on the client perspective.
- Focus groups to understand the experience associated to different forms of clientelism and the factors that appear to matter for the client’s choice.
- A survey designed to study prevalence of different types of clientelism, including a list experiment to assess the potential social desirability bias of answers to clientelism questions.
- Survey experiments to examine the causal role of different factors on the demand for different forms of clientelism.
- The project lasts for 27 months, from June 2017 until September 2019.