Dimensions of state-society relations in Africa
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A central issue in contemporary Africa concerns the problematic nature of state-society relations. The problem stems from the incongruity between the form and character of the state and the underlying social, economic and political configurations of African societies. This incongruity undermines the coherence ( the regularized and unambiguous procedures for the exchange of power and resources) and the performance (the ability to mobilize and allocate scarce public resources, maintain territorial integrity, and satisfy societal demands) of the state. Since most of Africa became independent in the 196Os, a variety of institutional mechanisms, leadership strategies, and policy measures has been devised to reduce the incongruity between state and society and improve state coherence and performance. This paper proposes, in a preliminary fashion, a framework that analytically and parsimoniously subsumes these devices under the rubric of three interrelated dimensions of state-society relations: procedures, personnel, and policy. Procedures refer to regime characteristics, specifically, to the institutional arrangements and the so-called "rules of the game" which enhance the capacity of the state to establish and exert control over society and to respond to societal demands. Personnel refers to the political leadership process which animates state institutions and procedures, and by which state rule and authority are transmitted and legitimized in society and societal preferences articulated and represented in the state apparatus. Policy refers to the substantive content of state actions aimed at distributing burdens and benefits among competing groups and regions in society and at altering the balance of political power between these groups and regions, on the one hand, and the state, on the other, in favor of the state. I should stress that this paper is essentially a think-piece. The ideas contained herein are exploratory rather than definitive, and should not be construed as integrated propositions from which logically consistent statements about state-society relations in Africa can be derived. They can be more accurately characterized as a "pre-theoretical 11 attempt to identify a set of relevant variables which can be useful in developing theoretically
African Studies Center Working Paper No. 102
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