A Clock among the Clouds? Political Settlement and the Unsettling Politics of Oil in Ghana
Nelson Oppong (University of Bath)
Paper short abstract:
This presentation offers a critique of the "political settlements" framework, with a focus on its application to the politics of oil in developing countries.
Paper long abstract:
This presentation offers a critique of the "political settlements" framework, with a focus on its application to the politics of oil in developing countries. Recently, the political settlement framework has emerged from the shadows of new institutionalism to the epicentre of political economy analysis of developing countries. In developing countries, its advocates posit that the framework, which centres on how the distribution of benefits and power dictates the pace and direction of economy growth, offers a sharper lens that could circumvent apolitical interventions and circular narratives on democracy, development and institutional performance. In the oil sector, where calls for revising the largely sceptical script about the prospects of resource-led development have been rife, political settlements has been invoked as a more reliable framework to unpack the unsettling politics of the "petro state." However, this literature has failed to account for the interplay between the norms and material politics that underpin oil-induced transformation. The presentation seeks to address this gap by framing the question more empirically: how do democratic politics and liberal reform shape the trajectories and incentive patterns of oil-led development in Africa? The response draws from an in-depth account of oil and the politics of reform in Ghana, combined with Raufu Mustapha's interpretation of the "public sphere" and the lens of scaling democracy, to spell out how normative politics associated with reform open the arena for more deliberation and social dialogue, and shape competing claims around oil.
- Politics and International Relations