Poverty Alleviation as a Platform for Elite Configuration?
It is commonly assumed that African elites are not oriented towards change and pro-poor economic growth. Rather, African political relationships and development are often seen to be embedded within political, bureaucratic and economic networks, characterized by patron-client relations and practices of rent-seeking. At the same time, poverty alleviation initiatives increasingly emphasize the importance of productive sector development and pro-poor economical growth through the creation of employment and enhanced livelihood opportunities.
In Benin, a liberalization reform of the economically all-important cotton sector has been under way for more than 10 years. Yet, it is still incomplete and milestones of the reform have been regularly postponed.
The main objective of the study is to understand how elite configurations in Benin are related to the prolonged reforms of the cotton sector. Concretely, the project will, by mapping existing and emerging cotton sector elites and examining their relationships to political, bureaucratic and other economic elites, explore the extent to which reform initiatives within the cotton sector have influenced the configuration of cotton elite groups, by either consolidating existing elites, or actually engendering structural changes within the cotton sector, thus giving rise to new elite groups. The different ways in which reforms have been implemented, opposed and hindered will be of central interest.
In order to explore these issues, the project focuses on 1) the ways in which the legitimacy and authority of the various elites involved in the cotton sector reform is constituted; 2) how the different local and regional types of elites within the cotton sector are related to each other as well as to national elites; and 3) the wider structural changes, if any, related to the cotton sector reforms in terms of elite configuration.
The PhD project is funded by FFU as part of the ENPA programme and will run from October 2008 until September 2011.
DIIS researchers involved: Tina Maria Jensen.
Networks or partners involved: Department for International Development Studies, Roskilde University; l’Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherches sur les Dynamiques Sociales et le Développement Local, Benin.