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Everyday Choices: The Role of Competing Authorities and Social Institutions in Politics and Development

November 11 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Scholars and practitioners seek development solutions through the engineering and strengthening of state institutions. Yet, the citizens, public service providers and even state officials engaging in actions that constitute politics and development are not always acting only, or even primarily in terms of their role vis-a-vis the state. They are members of multiple communities – religious orders, family or kinship groups, ethnic communities – that make claims on individuals and create additional, often non-obvious incentives that shape individual actions. Drawing on findings from existing literature and the author’s research, it puts forth an institutional approach that takes membership in multiple, often competing communities into account, explaining how the salience of various arenas of authority associated with communities, and of nature of the social institutions within these arenas, affect politics and development.

Ellen Lust is the Founding Director of the Program on Governance and Local Development at Yale University (est. 2013), and then at the University of Gothenburg (est. 2015), and is Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg. She is currently a Tällberg Stavros Niarchos Foundation Fellow.

Ellen has conducted fieldwork and implemented surveys in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Zambia. She has authored numerous books, textbooks, and articles, including most recently, Safer Research in the Social Sciences: A Systematic Handbook for Human and Digital Security, (SAGE Publishing, 2020) in collaboration with Jannis Grimm, Kevin Koehler, Ilyas Saliba, and Isabell Schierenbeck. Ellen’s current research is aimed at examining the role of social institutions in governance and developing governance indicators to systematically gauge sub-national variations in governance and development.


November 11
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
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Middle East Studies Program


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