This panel examines the conditions under which the rural-urban divide demarcates different political behaviours, attitudes, patterns of regime support and party-citizen linkages from a case-study and comparative perspective.
Ethnicity is frequently portrayed as the key social cleavage in Africa influencing, among other things, redistributive policies, patterns of interparty competition, sources of regime support and citizens' political behaviour and attitudes. But what about other relevant territorial cleavages? Does the rural-urban divide demark two different political cultures? Does the nature of party-citizen linkages (e.g. clientelistic or programmatic) change accordingly? Do parties see value in capitalizing these territorial boundaries to gain support? Do the political differences between rural and urban areas vary when we compare countries that are more urbanized to those that are less? These are critical research questions to survey, given the political and demographic changes the continent has experienced over the past quarter century. Indeed, rapid urbanization is a, relatively, recent phenomenon in Sub-Saharan Africa and has been accompanied by social and economic exclusion of the majority of the people living in the big cities. This, in turn, has been increasingly countervailed by a growth of political intervention and contestation by urban citizens, in democratic and non-democratic countries. In rural areas where the majority of the population lives, collective efforts are even more critical for overcoming obstacles of effective participation. This panel invites paper givers to analyse the many ways in which the rural-urban divide impacts the political life of African countries using evidence from comparative or case studies