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Modern Patronage and Development in Cambodia: Historical Foundations, Modern Re-Articulations, and the Contemporary Quest for Political Legitimacy

Petersson, Markus LU (2017) SIMV24 20171
Graduate School
Master of Science in Development Studies
Department of Human Geography
Abstract
Cambodia´s complicated political landscape has created a development context that the international community long struggled to navigate. In this paper I – through a theoretical framework that conceptualises a political context as a historically located totality and defines the quest for political legitimacy as a constraint that can be used to make inferences about the behaviour and actions preferred by the ruling elite – explore how development endeavours can learn to work better within Cambodia´s political landscape. Through a qualitative exploration based on insights from previous research and 15 semi-structured interviews I conducted during my visit to the country, I argue that Cambodia´s contemporary political context has been shaped... (More)
Cambodia´s complicated political landscape has created a development context that the international community long struggled to navigate. In this paper I – through a theoretical framework that conceptualises a political context as a historically located totality and defines the quest for political legitimacy as a constraint that can be used to make inferences about the behaviour and actions preferred by the ruling elite – explore how development endeavours can learn to work better within Cambodia´s political landscape. Through a qualitative exploration based on insights from previous research and 15 semi-structured interviews I conducted during my visit to the country, I argue that Cambodia´s contemporary political context has been shaped by how the ruling elite has been able to transform traditional patron-client relations into an elaborate modern mass patronage system. Within this system, legitimacy is maintained through a political theatre that builds on the constructed perception of “Khmerness” and projects notions of fear, protection and moral authority. While this articulation of political legitimacy is found to limit reforms and policies that are perceived to undermine the influence of the elite, it also provides a possible avenue of influence. Within the current circumstances, the elite is increasingly pressured to deliver tangible improvements at the local level, and strategies that utilise the developmental space this opens up could be more capable of navigating the murky waters constituted by Cambodia´s socio-political context. (Less)
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author
Petersson, Markus LU
supervisor
organization
course
SIMV24 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
8910871
date added to LUP
2017-07-03 13:04:52
date last changed
2017-07-03 13:04:52
@misc{8910871,
  abstract     = {Cambodia´s complicated political landscape has created a development context that the international community long struggled to navigate. In this paper I – through a theoretical framework that conceptualises a political context as a historically located totality and defines the quest for political legitimacy as a constraint that can be used to make inferences about the behaviour and actions preferred by the ruling elite – explore how development endeavours can learn to work better within Cambodia´s political landscape. Through a qualitative exploration based on insights from previous research and 15 semi-structured interviews I conducted during my visit to the country, I argue that Cambodia´s contemporary political context has been shaped by how the ruling elite has been able to transform traditional patron-client relations into an elaborate modern mass patronage system. Within this system, legitimacy is maintained through a political theatre that builds on the constructed perception of “Khmerness” and projects notions of fear, protection and moral authority. While this articulation of political legitimacy is found to limit reforms and policies that are perceived to undermine the influence of the elite, it also provides a possible avenue of influence. Within the current circumstances, the elite is increasingly pressured to deliver tangible improvements at the local level, and strategies that utilise the developmental space this opens up could be more capable of navigating the murky waters constituted by Cambodia´s socio-political context.},
  author       = {Petersson, Markus},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Modern Patronage and Development in Cambodia: Historical Foundations, Modern Re-Articulations, and the Contemporary Quest for Political Legitimacy},
  year         = {2017},
}