Elite Networks in Africa

PI: Dr. Anja Osei

Funding: Young Scholar Fund

Period: 01.07.2014 - 30.06.2015

Team: Anja Osei

Abstract/ Project Outline:

Although the term “elite” is omnipresent in the discourse on African politics, there is surprisingly little systematic engagement with the topic. It is often claimed that the wave of democratisation in the 1990s has not led to a substantial renewal of the political personnel, but has rather increased intra-elite competition for political office and state resources. What is missing so far is a comparative empirical evaluation of elite structures and elite-mass relationships in various regimes. The project “Elite Networks in Africa” attempts to close this gap by investigating a) the relationship between elite structures and democracy, and b) the relationship between elite structures and political stability. After the successful pilot study in Ghana in 2013, Togo is the second country study. In both countries, two questions are investigated:

  1. What are the social characteristics and career patterns of elites?
  2. What is the relationship between elite network structures and democracy/political stability?

Two types of data are collected: biographical data on the social origin, career patterns of elites and political attitudes of African elites, and data on the interaction patterns between members of the elite. The study is focused on Members of the Parliament as an important fraction of the national elite. In collaboration with partners from the Afrobarometer (for Ghana: CDD - Center for Democratic Development, and for Togo CROP – Centre for Research and Opinion Polls) the deputies are interviewed using a standardized questionnaire.