WIPES : Political Settlements Theory

Thursday, 15 October, 2020 - 15:30

Political settlements theory seeks to explain development outcomes according to the distribution of organisational power, institutions and resources in society. Drawing on various traditions (new institutionalism, public choice, Marxism), it has steadily moved into the mainstream of development discourse, and has informed a wide range of bilateral and multilateral programmes around fragile and developing states. As a comparatively young discipline, there are active and ongoing debates around definitions, gaps and dependencies in the model. These include how narrow or inclusive a settlement has to be, whether the settlement is a reproducible distribution of power or an agreement between elites to end violence, and the importance of the distribution of economic benefits as a variable. We are privileged to be joined by three speakers who have been at the cutting edge of these debates, and who will engage with us over the course of two sessions.

If you are planning to join this meeting, please read this discussion paper.

Session 1: Wednesday 7th October 2020 16h00 – 17h30

Tim Kelsall and Matthias vom Hau from the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre, University of Manchester, will present a paper reflecting on the current debates in political settlements theory, in particular what constitutes a political settlement, the critical variables that determine outcomes and the typologies that flow from this. The themes they will cover also form part of a forthcoming book to be published early in 2021. 

Register for the Zoom meeting here :  https://wits-za.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEqceGopjgiGdbW1BZJB_WKojK9DBxfjK-P

Tim Kelsall is a Senior Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute in London and Co-Director of Research at the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre, University of Manchester. Tim  specialises in political economy analysis and political anthropology, with interests in governance, democracy, transitional justice, economic growth, education, and health. He has worked in several developing countries, including Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Cambodia. He holds a BA from the University of Oxford and an MA and PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies. Prior to joining ODI he taught politics and development studies at Oxford and Newcastle Universities, edited the journal African Affairs, and worked freelance for a variety of research and development organisations. His latest book is Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Rethinking the orthodoxies on growth and transformation (London: Zed Books, 2013).

Matthias vom Hau is an Associate Professor and Ramón y Cajal Researcher at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI). A sociologist by training, he has a PhD (2007) from Brown University and previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Manchester. Matthias’ research is centrally concerned with the relationship between identity politics, institutions, and development, with a comparative-historical focus on Latin America. He has published widely on how states construct a sense of national belonging, how civil society actors negotiate and contest official nationalisms, and the extent to which ordinary citizens subscribe to official and counter-state identity projects. A second line of research explores the rise and consequences of indigenous movements in Latin America and beyond, while his third line of work corrects for the fundamentally ahistorical approach that underpins the supposedly negative relationship between ethnic diversity and public goods provision.

Session 2: Wednesday 14th October 2020 16h00 – 17h30

Brian Levy from Johns Hopkins University and UCT will build on the empirical methodology laid out in his earlier book Working with the Grain (Levy 2014) and present a draft of an application to South Africa. This work addresses an important gap in political settlements theory, exploring the implications for public sector capability.

If you are planning to join this meeting, please read Chapters 7 and 10 from the Politics and Governance of Basic Education

Register for this Zoom meeting here :  https://wits-za.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAvcOytqjgqH9HyBQnTvGC3fYaEPiZQQMhp

Brian Levy is  Professor of the Practice of International Development, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; and (from 2012-2019)  Academic Director Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town. He worked at the World Bank from 1989 to 2012, including as head of the secretariat responsible for the design and implementation of the World Bank Group's governance and anti-corruption strategy. He has published widely on the interactions among institutions, political economy and development policy, including  Working with the Grain: Integrating Governance and Growth in Development Strategies (Oxford U Press, 2014; info at www.workingwiththegrain.com)  and, as lead editor and author,  The Governance and Politics of Basic Education: A Tale of Two South African Provinces (Oxford U Press, 2018). He  completed his Ph.D in economics at Harvard University in 1983.