Accepted paper:

Political elites in Madagascar: trajectories and connections with the other elite segments


François Roubaud (IRD)

Paper short abstract:

Based on a unique and representative survey of hyper-elites in Madagascar, the paper aims at exploring the specificity of political elite trajectories (individual and familial) and at investigating their interconnections with other elite segments (economic, bureaucratic, religious, military…).

Paper long abstract:

Elites are central to institutions and organisations, given that they are fashioned and controlled by individuals and social groups or coalitions whose most influential players are elites. Most of the recent studies on elites in Africa are concerned with how these elites affect the development process in general (based on the generic opposition between rent-seeking elites and developmental elites). However little is known about this "small world" while a major challenge facing the academic community in its quest to advance in its research on elites is precisely how to define them and identify who they are in concrete terms based on sound empirical data. This paper pursues three interlinked objectives. First, it provides a methodological contribution to bridge the knowledge gap by presenting a unique statistical survey of 1,000 of the most powerful people in Madagascar, representative of all spheres of power (among which 300 top national politicians). Second, the paper contrasts their personal and familial biographical trajectories with other elite segments to identify their characteristics and specificities, beyond the classical sociodemographic variables (sex, age, education…) taking advantage of the rich set of data available in the survey (in particular their social networks). Finally, we explore how far these politicians are connected with other elite groups, as a potential strategy to access and stay in power. The key role of politicians within the elite nexus will be stressed.

panel Pol16
Who are African politicians?