Rachel Strohm

Fellowship Recipient, Rocca Dissertation Research Fellowship
Department: Political Science
Country Expertise: Ghana
Language Expertise:
Fellowship Year(s): 2016
Project/Theme Title: Political impacts of welfare expansion in Africa
Abstracts: In many African countries, traditional leaders substitute for the state at the local level by providing goods and services through patronage networks. This frequently reflects a political settlement with state authorities, who allow traditional leaders to maintain independent patronage networks in exchange for political support. However, states also face pressure to increase their capacity for local service provision. Does this disrupt patterns of traditional authority and patronage? If so, how do traditional leaders respond? In my dissertation, I study a new welfare program in Ghana, which is targeted towards rural towns where traditional leaders hold substantial power. I will use survey data to examine general trends in local patronage participation, and focus groups and interviews to provide greater detail on traditional leaders’ responses to the expanded presence of the state. My findings will contribute to the literature on the political role of traditional leaders in Africa.