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The State of Democratisation in Afghanistan: An examination of the state-citizen relationship in a fragile context

Larson, Anna (2013) The State of Democratisation in Afghanistan: An examination of the state-citizen relationship in a fragile context. PhD thesis, University of York.

Anna Larson PhD Thesis_The State of Democratisation in Afghanistan.pdf
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Since the 1990s, democratisation has been upheld by international institutions, donor governments and development agencies as a means to achieve stability and development in post-conflict contexts. Conceived of as a way in which to make ‘fragile states’ less ‘fragile’, through encouraging greater interaction between individual citizens and the state structure, democratisation has been integral to post-conflict statebuilding programmes. To date, however, little evidence has emerged to indicate whether or not these programmes have actually facilitated any change in the relationship between ruler and ruled. Contemporary attempts to conceptualise, measure and practice democratisation commonly focus on the nature of the state-citizen relationship, and in doing so tend to portray the concepts of ‘the state’ and ‘the citizen’ as constant (or ideally constant) across contexts. In conflict-affected fragile states such as Afghanistan, however, standard conceptions of what the state should be or what role it should play, in the predominant Weberian legal-rational sense, are difficult to apply – primarily because these states have not emerged historically as did western European states. Expecting fragile states to fit the Weberian model, or produce a liberal brand of the state-citizen relationship, thus seems untenable. This thesis explores whether democratisation might occur in spaces other than that of this seemingly fundamental relationship. Using Charles Tilly’s 2007 framework as a basis for enquiry, the research examines the case of Afghanistan through compiling an historical narrative of ruler-ruled relationships and through analysing a new data set of local perspectives on the state collected from three provinces. The study concludes that alterations to this framework are needed if the nuances of change in the ruler-ruled relationship are to be captured adequately. Developing an alternative, the Comprehensive Democratisation Indicators (CDI) approach, the researcher argues that employing centre-community and state-citizen constructs in parallel provides a much more holistic picture of political change in contexts where the liberal institutions of ‘state’ and ‘citizen’ have not taken hold.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Democratisation, Afghanistan, Statebuilding, Fragile States
Academic Units: The University of York > Politics (York)
The University of York > Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.581727
Depositing User: Mrs Anna Larson
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2013 14:30
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:02
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4613

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