chapter  3
Afghanistan: persisting instability, informality and tradition
Pages 30

A country beset by war and unrest, the fragile state of Afghanistan continues to be governed by informality and tradition. Afghans are credited with being remarkably resilient and adaptable, time and again demonstrating their capacity to cope in an adverse environment. In this chapter, the discussion builds on the final section of Chapter 2 to look closer at the dominance of informal institutions, power asymmetries and degrees of trust in the research country context, Afghanistan. To this end, I look specifically at the struggling Afghan state and traditions, the complex nature of social organisation and networks, the conservative Islamic environment intertwined in local politics, and the deeply entrenched cultural rules and norms, especially for women. Turning to the particular character of Afghan markets, I discuss their dynamism yet uncertainty, with markets embedded in social and cultural institutions, skewed by strong power dynamics. This is shown to have critical implications for market participation and growth.