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Neopatrimonialism Reconsidered: Critical Review and Elaboration of an Elusive Concept

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The article provides a critical discussion of the literature on 'patrimonialism' and 'neopatrimonialism' in Development Studies in general and African Studies in particular. Based on Max Weber's concept of patrimonialism and legal-rational bureaucracy the authors present their own definition of 'neopatrimonialism'. Three key conceptual questions are addressed. These are related to the operationalisation of the concept in empirical research: (1) how can neopatrimonialism be delimited vis-à-vis the concepts 'clientelism' and 'patronage'?; (2) how can neopatrimonialism be 'measured'?; and (3) how does neopatrimonialism relate to classical typologies of political regimes?

Keywords: Africa; Development studies; bureaucracy; clientelism; patrimonialism; political power; political regimes

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: GIGA, Institute of African Affairs, Hamburg, Germany 2: Institute of African Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany

Publication date: February 1, 2007


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