“Under the Circumstances, We Do What We Can”

Sandra F. Joireman

in Where There is No Government

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199782482
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897209 | DOI:
“Under the Circumstances, We Do What We Can”

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Bureaucratic entrepreneurs are officials operating outside their legitimate area of responsibility. They provide services in exchange for payment and trade on their recognition as authority figures in one area to make a profit in another. We see bureaucratic entrepreneurs operating as a separate enforcement regime in many parts of Africa. Attention is given to the role of chiefs in Kenya who have been specifically forbidden from adjudicating property disputes, yet do so with frequency in both rural and urban areas, and to elected Local Council I officials in Uganda who act as judges and registrars of land, in spite of a recent law providing alternative formal mechanisms for doing so. Their actions focus a discussion on law and social norms. This chapter presents a different perspective on authority and property as bureaucratic entrepreneurs use both their positions with the state and the weakness of the state to promote their own interests or social norms, which are in conflict with law. In some cases (Uganda), this can result in positive outcomes and the definition of property rights, while in the case of Kenya, the societal impact appears to be negative.

Keywords: Uganda; Kenya; bureaucrats; property rights; land administration; law; social norms

Chapter.  8288 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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