Escaping Africa's Predatory Trap: The Social Origins of Development and Democracy in Botswana and Mauritius

Froitzheim, John Lenard, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Fatton, Robert, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Echeverri-Gent, John, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Owen, John, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

This dissertation explores why two African states, Botswana and Mauritius, despite adverse initial conditions were able to escape the patterns of predation that characterize other African states and emerge as two of the most stable and prosperous states of Africa. By examining the origins and consequences of different institutional forms of state–society relationships, this dissertation explores the social origins of ―developmental‖ states. I argue that both predatory and developmental states are a consequence of patterns of social conflict and cooperation over the distribution of political power and economic wealth, which shapes the profile of social institutions. These institutions structure the distribution of wealth and power through the legal and bureaucratic organs of the state and may enhance the hegemonic project of the ruling class. The ruling class's inherent predatory tendencies may be constrained by the relative power of social classes, the intensity of class struggles, and the constraints and opportunities inherent in pre-existing institutions. The constraints on the ruling class determine whether the ruling class will adopt predatory or developmental policies and institution building. International variables affect the relationship of power between social classes and thereby influence the distributional struggles between those groups.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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