Book Project

Citizen preferences for different forms of clientelism are crucial for its persistence. For clientelism to persist, citizens must be willing to engage in clientelistic exchanges under the conditions they are offered in a given place. We develop the concept of demand for clientelism that examines under which conditions – in terms of goods, inequality, reliability and moral condemnation –  citizens are willing to accept a clientelistic offer. 

Our book project brings together data from focus groups, surveys and survey experiments to understand citizen demand for different forms of clientelism in Tunisia and South Africa. Our framework chapter presents a typology of different types of clientelism from the client’s perspective that we built inductively from ethnographic accounts of clientelism from all around work. It also shows that two dimensions are sufficient to distinguish most types of clientelism – a vertical dimension that captures how unequal the exchange is as well as a horizontal dimension that captures how particularistic the exchange is (the research for this chapter was published in Perspectives on Politics). The empirical chapters document the prevalence and demand for different types of clientelism – vote buying, relational, traditional, and collective clientelism in our settings and use conjoint experiments to understand under which supply conditions citizens are willing to accept offers. We also examine different drives of preferences for more vs. less unequal forms of clientelism and more vs. less particularistic types, focusing on factors such as trust in politicians, altruism, efficacy, moral evaluations,  and inequality aversion. We conclude with a chapter examining what implications high demand for clientelism has for accountability. 

Our book project links with a new literature on the citizen side of clientelism that emphasizes the importance of citizens for the persistence of clientelism, stresses citizen agency in clientelistic exchanges, and highlights differences between types of clientelism regarding citizen welfare.