chapter  6
28 Pages

Political Lives

Chapter 3 examined the evolution of nation-states in the Global South, and their relationship to a changing international political order. Here, we change the focus to the local scale, and look at how these macro-level changes interact with people’s lived experience of politics and power. In doing so, we need to examine both formal and informal politics (Box 6.1) and the overlapping ways in which both infl uence structures of power. The Chapter starts by looking at the different patterns of rule that have been established across the Global South, and asks two main questions. The fi rst section addresses the question: How do governments establish rule at the grassroots of societies in the Global South? Governing populations always involves a series of contested relationships, whereby rulers attempt to defi ne their authority over people, and to acquire some measure of legitimacy to justify this authority. In the Global South, the contrast between ‘modern’ forms of government and ‘traditional’ authority may often make the institutions of the state and their legitimate spheres of operation particularly open to question. The second section asks the question: How is the power of government experienced at the grassroots? What are the ways in which the state makes itself ‘visible’ to its citizens in the Global South, and how do people respond to it? The experience of rule draws people into a series of relationships that extend over space: as citizens belonging to a national territory, as voters within particular electoral wards, or more mundanely as people trying to access services or benefi ts provided by the local state. These experiences can in turn, and in conjunction with other economic, social and cultural relationships, play a part in shaping people’s sense of identity (see Concept Box 5.5).