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Dimensions of statehood: a study of public goods in Bukavu, the Democratic Republic of Congo

Solhjell, Randi (2015) Dimensions of statehood: a study of public goods in Bukavu, the Democratic Republic of Congo. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis challenges common political science assumptions about regions, nations, and societies in contexts of state weakness, with a special focus on de facto, rather than de jure, statehood in sub-Saharan Africa. I argue that theories of statehood must reach deeper into the empirical workings of state-society relations. Instead of positing abstract models or normative ideal types of modern states, I conceive of statehood as a set of daily practices that govern, regulate and generate effects on those experiencing and “performing the state”. I look at public good provision and consumption as a way to study these practices of statehood. The arguments advanced in this thesis are based on interpretive and relational methods. Interpretivism focuses on meanings and beliefs, as opposed to strict laws and statistical correlations. Relational methods demonstrate how interactions between consumers and providers of public goods evolve and condition de facto statehood. Qualitative data, which includes semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and participant observations, are drawn from firsthand encounters with service providers and citizens in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Empirical observation and analysis shed light on governance patterns, citizen-subject relations, and provide a heuristic approach to statehood dimensions. Approaching the concept of statehood through dimensions is useful in light of the multiple meanings that it holds. Statehood, I argue, is never fixed and does not reach a teleological end point, but rather, embodies different dimensions that can be analyzed through patterns of public goods provision. I argue that the state, often imagined as a coherent entity, is comprised of different practices found in a variety of spaces and social relations. This approach to statehood decreases discrepancies between the literature and empirical realties and engages with “real” experiences of statehood in non-Western spaces.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Randi Solhjell
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Breuilly, John
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3328

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