Lauren MacLean discusses the divergent paths of democratization in neighboring Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Why has Ghana turned over power to the opposition in peaceful, competitive elections while Cote d’Ivoire has been wracked with ethno-regional civil war? Rather than focus on the roles of international mediators and national political elites, she takes us to rural villages in very similar regions on either side of the border for an analysis of everyday politics at the grassroots. Based on eighteen months of survey research and in-depth interviews at the village level, her findings point to the key role of changing informal institutions of reciprocity (that is, the way village residents exchange help with their families, friends and neighbors) in shaping differences in indigenous notions of citizenship and political participation in neighboring Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.moreless
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