Peter M. Lewis
This article discusses Africa’s political economy in the contemporary era. It begins with an overview of various theories, models and debates that address African economic performance before turning to a discussion of the interrelationships between institutions, politics, and economic change. It then proceeds with an analysis of the politics of economic change in Africa following years of colonization; how the development strategies charted at independence came under stress from internal and global factors in the 1970s; the shifts in development strategy and policy orientation that African states went through in the 1980s; the influence of political reform and democratization on the trajectory of African economies during the 1990s; and the acceleration of economic growth in many African countries in the twenty-first century. Finally, the article assesses African economies under the contemporary period in which enhanced performance and a more propitious context create opportunities for a shift in developmental trajectories.
This chapter describes shifts in gender roles and agency during times of conflict, noting that the changes men and women experience are interdependent and arguing that a conflict period may offer a window of opportunity to speed up normative social change. The chapter describes how qualitative data from multiple conflict sites illustrate that while women may experience an increase in economic agency during a conflict period, many men feel emasculated or disempowered when their livelihoods are disrupted during conflict. Two case studies, from the Gaza Strip and Liberia, illustrate this dynamic of female empowerment and male emasculation. The Gaza example shows a community where these dynamics are present, but changes to the underlying gender norms are limited. Liberia offers an example of a post-conflict society where gender roles have not only been relaxed but have undergone a normative change, as women have begun participating in political, economic, and civic life.
Rebecca Nelson and Richard Coe
The smallholder farmers who cultivate many of the planet’s diverse production systems are faced with numerous challenges, including poverty, shrinking farm sizes, degrading natural resources, and climate variability and change. Efforts to improve the performance of smallholder farming systems focus on improving access to input and output markets, improving farm resource use efficiency, and improving resources invested in smallholder farming. In order to support market-oriented production and self-provisioning, there is a need for greater focus on agroecological intensification (AEI) of smallholder production systems. This chapter provides an overview of some of the research frontiers supporting AEI. Market-oriented and agroecological approaches may or may not conflict, and more effort should be made to ensure that they are mutually reinforcing. To be reliable, value chains must be founded on sound production ecology. Agroecological options may be limited if farmers cannot participate in markets that support investment in the intensification and diversification of these systems. Because options must be adapted to farmers’ heterogeneous and dynamic contexts, successful AEI will require that specifics be optimized locally. Researchers must therefore understand and communicate relevant agroecological principles, and farmers and intermediaries must develop their capacity to adapt the principles to local needs and realities.
Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States
This chapter discusses Albert Hirschman’s Exit, Voice and Loyalty, a classic known for its relatively simple argument that has found many applications in fields ranging from personal relationships and workplace relations to emigration, political parties, and more importantly, public policy. Published in 1970, the book argues how exit and voice can be used by consumers of a product or service to let producers know their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with that good. This chapter first examines the influence of Exit, Voice and Loyalty in various fields before turning to some criticisms and extensions of Hirschman’s framework. It then assesses how exit and voice relate to loyalty and social investment as well as the evidence for Hirschman’s claim of the exit–voice trade-off. Finally, it analyses evidence on the efficiency of different exit mechanisms.
This chapter examines an agroecological approach to agricultural development called the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). SRI can boost paddy yields by 50 to 100 percent using less inputs of seed, water, fertilizer, and labor. The article first considers the opportunities offered by SRI methods compared to current agricultural practices. It then looks at the effects of agroecological management with other crops and the dynamics of an agroecological innovation. The concluding section discusses broader implications for politics and society.
Ambiguous Transformations: The 2007/08 International Financial Crisis and Changing Economic Roles of the State
Over the past century, international financial crises have often helped transform the role of the state within domestic economies as well as the nature of economic relations between states. The international financial crisis of 2007–08 has so far left a very ambiguous legacy. The crisis initially seemed likely to challenge “neoliberal” economic regimes at the domestic level but that outcome has looked increasingly less convincing over time. At the international level, the crisis immediately triggered a strengthening of multilateral economic cooperation, but the significance of this cooperation and states’ enduring commitment to it are easily overstated. Given these ambiguities and the fact that current domestic and international trends are often working at cross-purposes, the world is left in a kind of interregnum in which the longer term significance of the 2007–08 crisis for the transformation of the economic role of the state is not yet clear.
Kuhika Gupta and Hank Jenkins-Smith
This chapter comments on Anthony Downs’s 1972 seminal paper “Up and Down with Ecology: The ‘Issue-Attention’ Cycle,” which tackles the concept of “public” or “issue” attention. Focusing on domestic policy, particularly environmental policy in the United States, Downs describes a process called “issue-attention cycle,” by which the public gains and loses interest in a particular issue over time. This chapter summarizes studies that directly put Downs’s propositions to the test, laying emphasis on research that probes the existence of and interrelationships among the public attention cycle, media attention cycle, and government attention cycle. It then reviews the main arguments put forward by Downs before concluding with a discussion of promising avenues for future research as well as important theoretical and methodological questions that need further elucidation.
This article discusses authoritarian government, and argues that the literature on authoritarianism can be integrated into a unified framework that explains variance in economic performance across dictatorships. It discusses the organizational theory of dictatorship and addresses the question why there are few stationary bandits. The logic of terror, which is the most direct strategy to curb the launching organization, is introduced in one section. This is followed by a study of the logic of co-optation, which is the strategy of co-opting the leadership of a launching organization by buying its loyalty. The final section focuses on the logic of organizational proliferation.
Government weakness and political fragmentation lie at the roots of the Bank’s importance in economic governance. The Bank maintained independence in appointments throughout the postwar period, acting as a breeding ground for civil servants and developing extensive technical expertise. Its independence increased after 1981, when it was freed from the obligation to buy unsold treasury bills. The Bank’s influence on policy was extensive: it was the main advocate of stable macroeconomic policies, exploiting European economic policy constraints to foster reform, and managing the exchange rate to fight inflation and promote industrial restructuring. With the third phase of Economic and Monetary Union, the Bank focused on promoting the consolidation of the banking system and modernizing it. However, the relative strengthening of domestic political institutions, the curtailing of the Bank’s independence in 2005, and the flow of powers to the European level have somewhat reduced the Bank’s functions.
David Pimentel and Michael Burgess
A rapidly growing world population and an even more rapidly growing consumption of fossil fuels are increasing demand for both food and biofuels, which will exaggerate both the food and fuel shortages around the world. Producing biofuels requires huge amounts of both fossil energy and food resources, which will intensify conflicts over these resources. Using food crops to produce ethanol raises major nutritional and ethical concerns. More than 66% of the world human population is currently malnourished, so the need for grains and other basic foods is critical. Growing crops for fuel squanders land, water, and energy resources vital for the production of food for people. Using food and feed crops for ethanol production has brought increases in the prices of US beef, chicken, pork, eggs, breads, cereals, and milk of 10% to 20%. In addition, Jacques Diouf, Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that using food grains to produce biofuels is already causing food shortages for the poor of the world. Growing crops for biofuel ignores the need to reduce natural resource consumption and exacerbates the problem of malnourishment worldwide by turning food grain into biofuel.