International Workshop : “Networks of Dependency – Re-configurations of Clientelism, Patronage, and Corruption in the Middle East and North Africa” — CNMS, Marburg Universität (Allemagne), 21-22/07/2015

In all the uprisings that took place in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2011, one common demand was the call for freedom, dignity, and social justice. Citizens saw in the actions of the rulers an explicit violation of tacit political and socioeconomic norms, and thereby of the old social pacts that had been concluded in the 1950s and 1960s (Harders 2003; Hibou 2001; Zorob 2013). Yet we know little about the specific norms and social orders that people in the streets actually called for in 2011. Whereas most of the attention has previously been attributed to formal institutions and their procedural norms (and to their violations: widespread corruption and lack of accountability of the state, respectively), the informal dimension of (re)distribution as well as its power relations from the local to the national level has thus far been marginalized in the literature.

 This international workshop aims at filling this gap by analyzing the development and the reconfigurations of networks of dependency (i.e. based on clientelism, patronage and corruption) in the region.

In MENA societies, like in other world regions (e.g. South America), networks of dependency play an important role in the access to material and immaterial goods and for the (re)distribution of private and public resources in everyday life (Ayubi 1995; Leca and Schemeil 1983). Political change – incremental or in forms of ruptures such as the uprisings of 2011 – can thus be only partially understood if these (sometimes competing) networks, embedded in unequal vertical power relations and contributing to the reproduction of specific sociopolitical orders, are not taken into account. Therefore, this workshop suggests using the notion of networks of dependency as an original point of entry to understand both the uprisings of 2011 and the different ensuing sociopolitical and economic transformation processes. The study of these networks also provides a promising link between different disciplines that deal with socioeconomic distribution (economics, sociology, political science, or anthropology) and may generate new insights into the cross-cutting developments that are taking place in the region.

Contact :

Dr. Christoph Schwarz
Tel.: +49 (0)6421-28-24972

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