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By Stephen N. Ndegwa

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By eliminating norms we leave open the question of the relationship between democracy and civil society. 6 By virtue of its autonomy from the state, it certainly allows the possibility of democracy, and many elements within it may actively support democratic movements, but we leave the overall, longterm relationship open as a research question. Africa may or may not follow some 22 STEPHEN ORVIS version of the history of this relationship in the West. Civil society is an important sphere for analytical inquiry, with political implications of some sort, even if it does nothing to further democracy.

Patron-client networks Patron-client networks are so pervasive in Africa largely because they provide crucial resources to all involved. Africans gain employment, political position, and help in a crisis from their patron-client networks. Perhaps most importantly, in an extremely insecure situation, these networks provide the best available means of social and economic security (Berry 1993; Orvis 1997). Because of the historical evolution of the “invention of tradition” (Ranger 1994) in Africa, patron-client networks usually exist within ethnic groups.

Fox (1994), for example, juxtaposes clientelism and citizenship, analyzing the transition from one to the other as part of the transition from authoritarian to democratic rule. Patronclient networks are seen to be far too hierarchical and unequal to be part of democratic civil society. The very limited autonomy of clients vis-à-vis patrons denies them equal citizenship. In Africa, the networks as a whole are considered inadequately autonomous from the state, given many patrons’ positions within or closely tied to the state (Chabal and Daloz 1999:17-30).

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