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GLD Seminar with Karen Ferree

Research profile seminar

You are most welcome to The Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) Seminar, with visiting scholar Karen Ferree, UC San Diego. The title of the seminar is: "Group Size and Co-ethnic Voting in Africa".


Accounts of African politicians from Mandela to Mobutu suggest that size matters in African politics. Leaders of large groups can maintain power on the basis of the group alone, whereas those of small groups must think in terms of broader coalitions and unifying strategies. This intuition lurks in journalistic accounts of African politics and scholarly research on coalition politics and state control. Yet group size confers power only when individuals within the group coordinate. Large groups are only powerful if their members work together. Such coordination is necessary, yet hardly given: internal divisions can divide and weaken large groups, and may in fact become more common as groups get larger.

This paper examines one manifestation of group coordination: whether the rate of co-ethnic voting is higher for members of larger groups. Using exit poll data from elections in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda, I show a large, robust correlation between group size and probability of supporting a co-ethnic legislative candidate and suggest that sorting alone is unlikely to explain this relationship. I then explore whether the correlation reflects deliberate efforts by voters in large groups to take advantage of group size or supply side dynamics related to candidate entry and quality. I conclude that supply side factors drive most of the relationship, underlying the important role of elites in generating co-ethnic voting and group coordination.

Lecturer: Karen Ferree studies democratization in Africa. Her work sits at the intersection of institutional and behavioral approaches to politics, with a particular focus on how ethnic and racial divisions and formal and informal institutions shape voting behavior and election outcomes in emerging democracies. She has written about South African politics in her book, Framing the Race in South Africa: the Political Origins of Racial Census Elections (Cambridge University Press, 2011). She has also written about electoral institutions, electoral integrity, and issues related to survey design in Africa.

Date: 10/14/2019

Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Categories: Social Sciences

Organizer: Department of Political Science

Location: B336, Stora Skansen

Contact person: Tove Wikehult

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