Accepted Paper:

Radical transformation of African local societies: the successful rebellion of the northern Togolese youth against gerontocracy  


Bernhard Martin (University Halle-Wittenberg)

Paper short abstract:

During the 1990s young northern Togolese achieved to overcome the social structures of local societies. In a new institutional perspective this radical changes were driven by the distributional effects of institutions. Nevertheless these changes has been realized inside the given institutional set.

Paper long abstract:

As in many other African local societies intergenerational relationships in northern Togo were characterized by a concentration of power and resources in the hands of the old men. During the 1990s the young men achieved to change these structures significantly in their favour and to eke out a more egalitaran distribution of power and resources.

The paper aims to analyze this radical social transformation by using the New Institutional Anthropology (Ensminger, Knight) and path-dependency approaches. Regarding the social institutions - in the sense of norms and rules - of the marital system, the rules of attending economic independence and local land law, we can see that the radical changes were driven by the distributional effects of the mentionned institutions. The production promoting Togolese cotton policy during the 1990s changed the incentives for market production significantly. A second parameter was ideological change resulting from temporary as long-term influences. Regarding the long-term evolution of the northern Togolese local societies we will understand that the radical transformations of the 1990s as been realized inside the given set of rules which were reinterpretated by strategically acting agents.

Panel IP07
Radical collaborations: a relational approach to social transformation