Department of Government

General Seminar in Politics and Government - Ellen Lust, the University of Gothenburg

General seminar organized by the Department of Government. Our guest speaker is Ellen Lust from the University of Gothenburg.

A photo of Professor Ellen Lust, the speaker of the seminar.
Ellen Lust

Main content

Title of the talk: Everyday Choices: The Role of Competing Authorities and Social Institutions in Politics and Development

Scholars and practitioners seek development solutions through the engineering and strengthening of state institutions. Yet, the state is not the only or often even the primary arena shaping how citizens, service providers, and state officials engage in actions that constitute politics and development. These individuals are members of religious orders, ethnic communities, and other groups that make claims about them, creating incentives that shape their actions. Recognizing how individuals experience these claims and view the choices before them is essential to understanding political processes and development outcomes. Taking an institutional approach, this Element explains how the salience of arenas of authority associated with various communities and the nature of social institutions within them affect politics and development. It establishes a framework of politics and development that allows for knowledge accumulation, guides future research, and can facilitate effective programming.

The talk is based on a Cambridge Element (2023) that is also available OpenAccess on Cambridge Core.

Ellen Lust is the Founding Director of the Governance and Local Development Institute at Yale University (est. 2013), at the University of Gothenburg (est. 2015), and Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg.  She has authored numerous books, textbooks, and articles including, most recently, Everyday Choices: The Role of Competing Authorities and Social Institutions in Politics and Development, (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Ellen’s current research examines the role of social institutions and local authorities in governance. She has conducted fieldwork and implemented surveys in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, and Zambia. She is a co-founder of the Transitional Governance Project, a founding associate editor of Middle East Law and Governance, and has served as an advisor and consultant to organizations including the Carter Center, Freedom House, NDI, UNDEF, UNDP, USAID, and the World Bank.