Transitional Clientelism

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<p>Against the norm: the transitional symbiosis of grassroots clientelism and rural citizenship</p> <p>Zograa BikaAbstractClientelism has predominantly been represented in the literature as an expression of backwardness and corruption with little attention being paid to the question of how clientelism has changed over the years. In contrast, this paper examines the particulars of state intervention in the agrarian economy with respect to clientelism and exposes the illogicality of contrasting patron-client relationships with citizenship. The historical focus is on the ways in which, in the course of post-dictatorship consolidation in rural Greece throughout the 1980s, the transformation of traditional brokerage-based clientelism into the bureaucratic clientelism of the political parties actually enhanced the institutions and practices of rural citizenship. Comparative qualitative research on the driving force of agrarian change shows how Thessalian villagers made the transition from being socially excluded subjects to socially included clients in two lowland village communities and the role played by a dynamic state bureaucracy.</p> <p>Introducing the analytical perspectiveBy cutting across theoretical traditions, political clientelism is conceptualised in this paper as a remarkable method of mutually benecial socio-economic transaction between unequal parties that is played out by collective or individual actors. In other words, clientelism refers to the links through which the village broker or single villager is linked vertically to the wider society as gatekeepers or individualised clients respectively (Lemarchand and Legg, 1972; Goussios, 1995; Sotiropoulos, 1994). This papers comparative ethnographic case study research in Thessaly, rural Greece, treats clientelism as an essential part of the growing trend of state integration and capitalist penetration, as the latter trends are evidenced by Kasimis and Papadopoulos (1997), with special attention to the villagers external relations, material commitments and shared understandings. It adopts a critical cultural political economy perspective (Sayer, 2001), incorporating an actor-oriented approach that views village power structures as regulated, distributed and acted upon byThe Sociological Review, 59:2 (2011) 2011 The Author. The Sociological Review 2011 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review. Published by Blackwell Publishing Inc., 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, 02148, USA.</p> <p>Against the norm</p> <p>different actors (Marsden, 1992; Buttel, 2001) and brings together ethnography, history and embeddedness in order to constitute a more culturally sensitive and less problem-driven appreciation of economic relations (Bika, 2007; Narotzky, 2007; Green, 2008). However, this political economy differs from the top-down approach of neo-Marxist analyses of Greek rural transformation (Mouzelis, 1976; 1978; Vergopoulos, 1978) that primarily recognized collective agency caught up in an unequal macro-exchange and examined individual farmers as undifferentiated products of institutional systems. It is theoretically closer to the so-called peasant studies (Moore, 1966; Wolf, 1969; Scott, 1985) that manage to avoid a universalistic conception of the seeds of the capitalist mode of production or social exchange, which are seen instead as conjectural, actor-centric and historically-specic (Brenner, 1976; Narotzky, 2007; Bika, 2007; Hung, 2008). It also resists the persistence through differentiation neo-populist thesis and its endogenous development models (for a review, see Kasimis and Papadopoulos, 1997; Bika, 2007) that focus on the micro (internal) characteristics (most importantly, the pluriactivity and heterogeneous employment practices) of Greek family farm adjustment to post-war capitalism through the positivist medium of locally-based survey research. By contrast, the papers theoretical stance embraces the fuzziness of the distinction between scales and especially micro- and macro-level interpretation (Sayer, 2000; 2001; Bika, 2007) or, in terms of rhetorical oppositions, between peasant particularities and government discourse. This framework rejects the epistemology that earlier on separated political economy analytically from the voice at the rural grassroots and its evaluative judgements, leaves behind the concept of the state-as-theexternal other and examines villagers lived experiences in order to detect systemic regularity and the organisation of cultural difference (Sayer, 2000; 2001: 689) thus striving to reconstruct how state intervention has been intertwined with village group interests. In particular, this paper: charts the slow transformation in the perception at the rural grassroots of clientelism, studies situated patron-client interactions between rural actors embedded in particular experiences, and thus attempts to resolve an impasse in theories of clientelism by looking at its practice. It offers historical evidence against the conventional underestimation in functionalist, modernisation and anthropological accounts (Baneld, 1958; Campbell, 1964; Lemarchand and Legg, 1972; Mouzelis, 1978; Herzfeld, 2003; Schneider and Schneider, 2005; Mattina, 2007) of the positive aspects of clientelism in the South as an alternative form of civil resistance, albeit with a few recent exceptions in Latin American research (Lazar, 2004; Schneider and ZunigaHamlin, 2005). Both Kaufman (1974) and Soiffer and Howe (1982) agreed more than two decades ago on the conceptualisation of clientelism as being neither static nor a cultural survival in its empirical application. Beyond conventional wisdom, this paper shows how a less structured and more processual exchange of diverse services and resources takes place among asymmetrically reciprocal parties over a long period and how clientelistic ties metamorphose 2011 The Author. The Sociological Review 2011 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review</p> <p>349</p> <p>Zograa Bika</p> <p>from being structural creators of centre-periphery dependency to those of subjective and historically-specic civil connectedness. To evaluate critically the positive aspects of clientelism, the paper examines in practice the way in which grassroots clientelism has given way to citizenship within the increasing modernisation of the Greek countryside in distinct historical periods. This process is, however, against the norm that prescribes universalistic and undifferentiated relations as being a prerequisite for citizenship. Such a normative transcendence occurs amidst the onslaught of modernity itself that is conceptualised here as detaching systems from the lifeworld (ie the world as given in experience), disembedding economy from culture and pursuing progress (Sayer, 2001; Bromley, 1991). In overview: before commencing the analysis, the extant literature on clientelism and citizenship is reviewed and an introduction to the empirical study in terms of methodology and historical background presented, then a wealth of qualitative data on villagers perceptions, conditions and relations is deciphered and conclusions drawn.</p> <p>Greek clientelism revisitedIn classical functionalist anthropology (Campbell, 1964), the Sarakatsani transhumant shepherd community is seen as being integrated piecemeal with the wider Greek society along unique lines of personal, moral and familial obligation, and patron-client relationships. This perspectives main collective actor remains the extended family and its inevitable inclinations, with Sarakatsani attitudes towards brokers and clients being represented as timeless and unchanging. Clientelism as a heterogeneous and uid cultural reality is virtually non-existent here. On the other hand, neo-Marxist thought has explored the relationship of class structure and clientelistic political practices in Greece. Thus Mouzelis (1978) distinguishes between functional evolutionism, in favour of dual models that move from traditional clientelism to modern class politics, and the Marxist application of the mode of production concept to societies more or less favourable to patronage. Spourdalakiss (1988) counterargument is also prominent in its claim that clientelism cannot be understood in class terms alone. Changes in government action, resources, political process, dependencies and class relations are responsible for the transformation of clientelistic practices rather than just changes in the articulation of competing modes of production. Finally, Herzfelds (2003) anthropological account of everyday (centre-periphery) responses to Greek nationalistic discourse offers an alternative view of clientelism in the face of the centres monopolisation of nationhood, ownership of history and manipulation of moral economy. Overall, it is as much the structure of whole communities as selfperpetuating bounded systems versus the capitalist mode of production and its collective (or institutional actors) which bear the burden of classical 350 2011 The Author. The Sociological Review 2011 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review</p> <p>Against the norm</p> <p>sociological explanation of clientelistic practices as the anthropological emergence of new localisms that reproduces the dichotomous thinking of client-based particularism versus citizen-related universalism. Village life is treated more as the politics of community (group) membership rather than as the private actions of individuals with their sense of justice. But the course of group development as the product of individual action, judgement and entrepreneurial drives is largely ignored (Boissevain, 1968). In this conceptual framework clientage relations are examined only negatively, as destructive forces in the public sphere responsible for backwardness, and thus are dismissed by mainstream scholars as some sort of civil casualty in the process of modern interest formation. However, at the local level, clientelism practically exists everywhere, not restricted to traditional or underdeveloped societies. In practice, what varies, is the nature of clientage relations (collective, aggressive, personalised, authoritarian, bureaucratic, or grassroots), their level of application (individual, family, village, regional or state) and their actors degree of social integration (monopolistic, oligarchic or pluralistic). To specify, there is a theoretical consensus among Greek political writers (Mouzelis, 1978; Spourdalakis, 1988; Lyrintzis, 1984, 1987; Sotiropoulos, 1994) that post-war Greek clientelism gradually became less oligarchic and more party-oriented as the capitalist mode of production increasingly dominated and orientations, allegiances and resources shifted from the local to the national level (Mouzelis, 1978: 487). In a macro-historical framework, Marantzidis and Mavrommatiss typology of clientelism (1999) serves heuristic purposes. It pivots on the main axis of defensive-aggressive clientelism, with the former being concerned with the minimalist avoidance of the deterioration of socially excluded clients social status (rights) and the latter with the promotion of upward social mobility of more socially integrated clients. Marantzidis and Mavrommatis (1999) used the case of Gypsies in the small town of Sofades (also in Thessaly) to explore how the defensive type of clientelism reproduces the framework of social exclusion that the Gypsies experience. Thus this paper also takes on the idea of aggressive clientage relations which are seen as an instrument for co-optation (Gould, 1996).</p> <p>The rise of rural citizenshipThe age-old divisions between liberalism and republicanism, with the formers understanding of the citizen as an individual bearer of universalistic rights and the latters as one who actively participates in public life, have dominated the discussion of the rights and duties of the citizen (Dahrendorf, 1974; Lister, 1998). A broad denition of citizenship is embraced here, which goes beyond a received membership of the nation (voting, military service or nationalistic discourse) to public participation in exercising and changing rights and obligations (Roberts, 1995: 184). The notion of citizenship has been contested in a different fashion to that of clientelism, with the spatial understanding of civil 2011 The Author. The Sociological Review 2011 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review</p> <p>351</p> <p>Zograa Bika</p> <p>membership based on common residence wrestling with that of cultural heritage and its shared symbolism in a borderless world (Glenn, 2000). Citizenship can no longer be singly associated with nationhood, rationality, civic memory, psychological requisites of social commitment, urban connotations (ie inhabitant of a town) or any other territorially based and undifferentiated notions of community (Dahrendorf, 1974; Nisbet, 1974; Dagger, 1981; Portis, 1986; Turner, 1990, 2001; Lister, 1998). Most importantly, the single-minded embodiment of citizenship in a national state has given way to the newly formed realities of dual citizenship, consumer citizenship, European citizenship, environmental citizenship, global citizenship and rural citizenship among others.As Parker and Ravenscroft inform us (2001: 389),what we appear to be experiencing is a wholesale deconstruction of the very idea of universal rights and its replacement with (common) interest-driven rights and different types of citizenship.This is the unmasking of rural citizenship that is understood here to refer to differentiated rural actors who share equal status (rights), and to run in transitional harmony with grassroots clientelism at the local level. It was rst T.H. Marshalls anglophile and evolutionary perspective (1950) on the historical emergence of citizenship, ie a successive emergence of civil (freedom of speech/thought/faith), political (free elections), and social rights (a modicum of economic welfare), which failed to put an emphasis on a notion of social struggles as the central motor for citizenship (Turner, 1990: 193). However, as Turner informs us (1990: 195), the character of citizenship varies systematically between different societies or, as he adds later on (2001: 191), citizenship has assumed very different forms in Europe in relation to different patterns of capitalist development. The development of various forms of citizenship (including rural) thus becomes possible as the result of mixing passive and active rights; it is no longer an ideal-type situation. In the making of citizenship, the importance of universalistic rights bestowed upon members and the varieties of their particularistic interests is commensurate with the impact of achieving active citizenship on individuals local loyalties, commitments and trust. In this context, grassroots clientelism can connect experientially the equality of opportunity that citizenship promises (state) with the inequality of position (economy) that class development brings into group life (village community). Clas...</p>