Book

Where There is No Government

Sandra F. Joireman

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199782482
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897209 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199782482.001.0001
Where There is No Government

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Governments, farmers, homeowners, and academics around the world agree that property rights are important. But what happens when the state fails to enforce them? This book describes how a variety of non-state actors define and enforce property rights in Sub-Saharan Africa when the state is weak or absent. Examining the roles played by traditional leaders, entrepreneurial bureaucrats, NGOs, and specialists in violence, this text argues that organic institutions can be helpful or predatory, depending on their incentives and context. Because organically developed institutions are not assumed to be either good or bad, the book develops a set of measurement criteria to assess which types of property regimes and enforcement mechanisms are helpful and which are harmful to social welfare. It focuses on the politics of property rights enforcement in both rural and urban communities in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. Describing what happens in specific communities, the book provocatively challenges the fallacy of legalism—the idea that changes in property law will lead to changes in property rights on the ground—arguing instead that states which change their property laws face challenges in implementation when they do not control the authority structures in local communities. The book provides new information about competitors to state power in Sub-Saharan Africa and the challenges of providing secure and defensible property rights.

Keywords: property rights; non-state actors; institutions; Kenya; Uganda; Ghana; economic development; state; law enforcement; Sub-Saharan Africa; land; housing; customary law

Book.  224 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Theory

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Where There is No Government

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Colonization and the Myth of the Customary in Where There is No Government

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Property Rights Enforcement by Other Means in Where There is No Government

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Private Enforcement of Property Rights in Where There is No Government

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In Search of Order in Where There is No Government

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Drawing Conclusions in Where There is No Government

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