Ghana: From fragility to resilience? Understanding the formation of a new political settlement from a critical political economy perspective
AuthorRuppel, Julia Franziska
Poku, Nana K.
KeywordCritical political economy; Electoral politics; Ghana; Political settlement; Power relations; Social change; Statebuilding; State formation
The University of Bradford theses are licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
InstitutionUniversity of Bradford
DepartmentFaculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
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AbstractDuring the late 1970s Ghana was described as a collapsed and failed state. In contrast, today it is hailed internationally as beacon of democracy and stability in West Africa. In light of Ghana’s drastic image change from a fragile and even collapsed polity to a resilient state, this thesis contributes to the statebuilding debate by analysing the social change that occurred. Grounded in a critical theory approach the thesis applies a political settlement analysis to explore how power is distributed and changed over time between contending social groups; exploring the extent to which this is embedded in formal and informal institutional arrangements. Ghana’s 2012 elections serve as an empirical basis and lens to observe the country’s current settlement. This approach enables a fine grained within-case comparison with Ghana’s collapsed post-independent settlement. The analysis illustrates that while there has been no transformation of the Ghanaian state, however, continuous incremental structural change has occurred within it, as demonstrated by a structurally altered constellation of power. While internationally propagated (neo-)liberal economic and political reforms had a vital impact on the reconstruction process of state-society relations, Ghana’s labelling as “success story” evokes the distorted idea of a resilient liberal state. The sustainability of Ghana’s current settlement characterised by electoral competitive clientelism depends on a continued inflow of foreign capital. So far the mutually beneficial interest of portraying Ghana as a resilient state by its elites and donors ensures the flow of needed financial assistance to preserve the settlement.
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