Socio-political change in Tajikistan. The development process, its challenges since the civil war and the silence before the new storm?

Type Thesis or Dissertation - PhD Thesis
Title Socio-political change in Tajikistan. The development process, its challenges since the civil war and the silence before the new storm?
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
The aim of my study was to look at governance and the extent of its functions at the local level in a post-conflict state such as Tajikistan, where the state does not have full control over the governance process, particularly regarding the provision of public goods and services. What is the impact on the development process at the local level? My dependent variable was the slowed down and regionally very much varying development process at the local level. My independent variable were the modes of local governance that emerged as an answer to the deficiencies of the state in terms of providing public goods and services at the local level which led to a reduced role of the state (my intervening variable). Central theoretic concepts in my study were governance – the processes, mechanisms and actors involved in decision-making –, local government – the representation of the state at the local level –, local governance – the processes, mechanisms and actors involved in decision-making at the local level and institutions – the formal and informal rules of the game. In the course of my field research which I conducted in Tajikistan in the years 2003/2004 and in 2005 I found that the state does not provide public goods and services to the local population in a sufficient way. The research question which then emerged out of this insight concerned the players and mechanisms that filled the gaps left open by the state: who are the drivers and spoilers of the local development process and why do modes of governance at the local level more or less function, regardless of the fact that the state is only involved to a small extent? Coming back to my dependent variable I wanted to find out why modes of local governance varied so much from region to region. I found that a diverse set of factors lead to this outcome: 1) the geographic, economic and social set-up varies significantly from region to region (e.g. land distribution); 2) the respective Soviet and post-conflict legacies (whether a region was shaped by the influence of the government of rather by the influence of the opposition); 3) the extent to which external players (such as international organisations and NGOs) are involved in modes of local governance; and 4) the role of other players such as local big men, e.g. former warlords, who are still respected and shape decision-making processes at the local level. This leads to a constellation where in resource-rich regions the state expects the provincial elite to redistribute the wealth. This does not take place and the state also does not invest in these regions. Eventually, the situation of the population in the resource-rich regions (such as in the South-West) is the worst because on the provincial level rentier-state structures emerge and the local population is exploited. In resource-poor regions the modes of local governance are shaped by an alliance of local and international NGOs, international organisations and locally respected figures. In the short run, the local population in these areas is better off, but whether these structures will turn out to be sustainable remains to be seen. Coming back to the question of why governance functions nonetheless: even during Soviet times, governance was significantly shaped by informal rules of the game (institutions). With the breakdown of this political system, Soviet socialism and the civil war, the local rules of the game did not change significantly and informal institutions provided some kind of continuity and still very much shape decision-making processes on the local level. However, generally the local population is not satisfied with the quality and quantity of public goods that are provided. Resentment is growing and if the large extent of the male working population cannot continue to migrate to Russia for labour, the fronts might harden again and Tajikistan risks to fall back into the turmoil it experienced during the 1990s.

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