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Corruption and Wildlife Management: The Logics of Collective Action in Transnationally Protected Reserves

Research project

Short description

This book proposal focuses on the issue of social control and states’ varying abilities to broadcast power over its territory. It focuses on state capacity and states’ ability to foster large-scale collective action and compliance, and develops and tests an argument holding that characteristics of the social contract between citizens and the state determines a state’s infrastructural power, and as such, citizens degree of compliance with rules and regulations.

It also contributes to the burgeoning literature on institutional dynamics, particularly to theories about institutional genesis, reproduction, and change. It uses transnational wildlife management in Africa as a case, providing ample grounds for developing and testing theoretical claims about social control and institutional dynamics. More specifically, taking poaching and the resulting loss of biodiversity – ‘eroding our own life support system from under our feet’ – as our starting point, this book hence sets out to develop and test an argument focusing on how political institutions and the character of social contracts affect poaching patterns in society.

The contribution from this endeavor is manifold. To start with, our theoretical contribution involves bringing the state back in to analyses of natural resource management. This implies focusing on the political aspects of wildlife management and the distributive nature of institutions. This in turn provides leverage for contributing more broadly to theories about social control and the broadcasting of power as well as to institutional theory and our general understanding of how institutions affect collective action and the use of natural resources.

More specifically, by focusing explicitly on state-society relations and the vertical relationship between the state and resource users, we set out to develop a theoretical understanding of endogenous institutional dynamics taking path dependence, feed-back loops, and the self-reinforcing character of institutions seriously.

Reseachers (länkas till ny katalog)

Martin Sjöstedt, Aksel Sundström and Sverker Jagers, Department of Political Science

It also involves distinguishing between causal and sustaining factors behind institutional reproduction and change as well as the role played by coercive and cooperative social orders respectively. Highlighting many issues at the core of social sciences in general, and political science in particular, wildlife management provides ample opportunities for making such contributions.

Yet, while hundreds of studies have addressed the biological and ecological aspects of African fauna, few have focused on the social scientific aspects of wildlife management. Extant studies that do focus on aspects other than ecological, however, in turn tend to employ a rather simplistic, managerial-administrative, view of wildlife management where greater political will, better information, better equipment, better staff, and more money, inevitably would make policymakers and their agents create wildlife policy to improve conservation outcomes.

Similarly, full and unconditional compliance from resource users and citizens are within this perspective to be expected. However, such assumptions, we argue, overlook the fundamental political nature of wildlife management and hence do not take the politics of poaching and the associated compliance and enforcement dynamics seriously into account.

This book, however, argues that wildlife management is ultimately an issue of political order and social control, reflecting basic questions about access to public authority, about whose preferences over wildlife institutions will dictate policy, and, consequently, about who will gain and who will lose. Empirically, the analyses build on unique primary data, surveys, and interviews.