This contribution will provide ethnographic evidence from Tanzania on the complex web of social networks and interactions pervading in a context of endemic corruption. In the communities of Dar es Salaam that we studied, there is no ambiguity about the negative meaning and impact of corruption; it is clearly understood as a negation of rights and consequence of the impunity of public officials. The contribution will analyze why, in spite of this assessment, individuals accept corruption as a fact of life, especially the need to give bribes in order to obtain services in local public health facilities.
The contribution is structured as follow. First, it includes a literature review on the selected problem. Secondly, it introduces The Tanzanian case through background information on the political economy of local governance practices in Dar es Salaam. In this context, the focus will be on resource scarcity and the mismatch with legal rights and entitlements, as well as on the institutional and political legacy of the collapsed socialist experiment at the local level. Thirdly, the contribution deals with ethnographic evidence illustrating the elements that contribute to the observed phenomenon of “resignation” over “indignation” with respect to the situation of endemic corruption that citizens experience when accessing public services, especially healthcare. The main focus of this section is on the role of social capital and social networks, understandings about the meanings of social transactions and the basis upon which they are conducted, and the concept of respect and sources of social prestige. Finally, conclusions and implications for policy-making follow.