Call for Papers: Panel Corruption and Political Power from a Comparative Area Perspective

Annual Meeting of the Comparative Politics Section of the German Political Science Association (DVPW) Please submit paper abstracts of up to 300 words until April 25, 2013 to both panel chairs.

Panel Chairs: Dr. Christian von Soest  & Dr. Thomas Richter, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies (Hamburg)

Panel Discussant: Prof. Dr. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Hertie School of Governance (Berlin)

The third wave of democratization has largely been a disappointment in regard to lowering corruption and improving governance. Numerous studies have investigated the causes of the enduring and pronounced levels of corruption in various world regions from different perspectives. However, we still lack consistent comparative knowledge from different areas across the globe on why corruption has persisted and on what drives the creation of impartial forms of rule as opposed to systemic particularistic modes of governance.

One reason could be the prevailing research focus that has been dominated by highly aggregated large-N studies, which tend to gloss over significant cross-regional differences and variation within regions. Therefore, the macro-statistical approach “does not tell us much about the underlying causes and contrasting corruption problems” (Johnston 2005, 35). On the other hand, single-case studies, which explicitly investigate individual cases of corruption, rarely provide generalizable results. This panel attempts to find a middle ground and aims to put insights from different world areas into a comparative perspective.

Important in this respect is the conceptualization of the very notion of corruption and other (more or less similar and often region-specific) concepts such as patrimonialism, neopatrimonialism, clientelism, bossism, booty capitalism, or sultanism. The encyclopedic understanding denotes corruption as the “misuse of public office for private benefit.” Yet there is a need to go beyond this actor-centered and voluntaristic understanding of corruption by introducing a political and societal dimension to it. Our starting point is the observation that corruption is often the result of the institutionalized (and therefore positively sanctioned) behavior of (state) agents. As a result, any analysis treating deeply ingrained informal practices as deviations from the norm, as solely individual “misuses” of authority or even as normatively deficient, is conceptually inadequate.

We invite papers that tackle the identified gaps from different theoretical, methodological and empirical angles. We particularly welcome papers covering the following aspects from a comparative area perspective:
•    Theoretical assessments of how corruption can be conceptualized measured and analyzed, particularly in a cross-area perspective. This may also include suggestions of how corruption and alternative area-specific concepts can be distinguished from or related to each other, and/or how the impact of corruption can be measured across different areas.
•    Empirical insights into what factors and expressions of corruption are area-specific and what factors are of a general nature.
•    Contributions on how corruption influences and is influenced by both democratization processes and the regression of democracy.
•    Reflections on how insights from area-specific research can enrich debates on corruption and political power in comparative politics and related disciplines.

Article text taken from the GIGA website