Structural Adjustment, Civil Society, and Democratization in Sub Saharan Africa

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Two recent developments dominate the political economy of Sub Saharan Africa -- the adoption of economic structural adjustment reforms and the emergence of pressures for the democratization of the political process. Economic reform measures have spawned civil society, made up of anti-authoritarian, anti-statist, non-governmental organizations, that demand political liberalization. This study is an attempt to analyze, theoretically and quantitatively, the unanticipated association between these developments. Democratic institutions inherited by Sub Saharan Africa at independence were subverted either through military coups or by the abuse and misuse of the institutions by an inordinately ambitious political elite. Thus, about a decade into ... continued below

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iv, 222 leaves : ill., map

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Iheduru, Obioma M. December 1995.

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  • Iheduru, Obioma M.

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Two recent developments dominate the political economy of Sub Saharan Africa -- the adoption of economic structural adjustment reforms and the emergence of pressures for the democratization of the political process. Economic reform measures have spawned civil society, made up of anti-authoritarian, anti-statist, non-governmental organizations, that demand political liberalization. This study is an attempt to analyze, theoretically and quantitatively, the unanticipated association between these developments. Democratic institutions inherited by Sub Saharan Africa at independence were subverted either through military coups or by the abuse and misuse of the institutions by an inordinately ambitious political elite. Thus, about a decade into independence more than three quarters of the sub continent virtually came under authoritarian rule. Contemporaneously there was a decline in the economies of these countries, forcing them to borrow from international financial institutions, in order to offset their balance of payment difficulties. By the mid-1980s most of Sub Saharan Africa had also instituted structural adjustment programs. Using a pooled cross-sectional time series model of analysis, data gathered from Sub Saharan African countries are analysed to test the explanatory power of the three extant contending theories of development: classical, dependency, and neoliberal. Then, most importantly, the analysis examines the relationship between structural adjustment, the development of civil society, and democratization. Overall, the results indicate that the institutional structures generated by, and the political millieu created by structural adjustment are conducive for the evolution of civil society and for its activities for democracy. This political opportunity, however, is also found to be dependent on the level of restructuring involved. The more the political system is restructured, the more the freedom of political participation by civil society, and the higher the level of democratization. The study found a very weak relationship between structural adjustment and economic growth, thereby calling into question many current economic policies. It further demonstrated that no one single theory had the advantages over others in explaining the dynamics of both political and economic development in Sub Saharan Africa and, by extension, in other developing countries.

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iv, 222 leaves : ill., map

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  • December 1995

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  • March 24, 2014, 8:07 p.m.

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  • March 26, 2015, 9:04 a.m.

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Iheduru, Obioma M. Structural Adjustment, Civil Society, and Democratization in Sub Saharan Africa, dissertation, December 1995; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc278496/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .