Liberalization against Democracy
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Local-level study of a rural Tunisian town illustrates why market-oriented economic reforms have not led to political liberalization.

". . . a very important contribution to contemporary debates on economic and political reform in developing countries. Based on interviews King conducted himself, this is an honest, unvarnished examination and critique of propositions that are treated like gospel." —Lisa Anderson

In Liberalization against Democracy, Stephen J. King argues that, in contrast to prevailing views, pro-market economic reforms in Tunisia did not foster democratization. Instead, state-led economic liberalization facilitated the reorganization of authoritarian rule and contributed to the subversion of democratic tendencies at both the national and local levels. In addition to King's analysis of neo-liberal economic transformation and regime change at the national level, his book offers a rare local-level analysis of these processes, based on the author's extensive fieldwork in the rural community of Tebourba. King's focus on the local level of analysis is particularly valuable. His community study shows firsthand how local elites have manipulated cultural traditionalism in order to sustain market-oriented reforms. This rich account clearly delineates the pathways by which pro-market reforms in
Tunisia have fostered corporatism, clientelism, and authoritarianism.

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Chapter One: Liberalization against Democracy
Chapter Two: Neo-liberal Transformation in Tunisia
Chapter Three: Marketization and The Retraditionalization of Local Politics
Chapter Four: Neo-traditionalism in Tebourba
Chapter Five: Structural Adjustment and the Small Peasantry
Chapter Six: The Politics of Em



Publié par
Date de parution 18 juin 2003
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253109873
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
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Bloomington, IN 47404-3797 USA
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2003 by Stephen J. King
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
King, Stephen J. (Stephen Juan), date
Liberalization against democracy : the local politics of economic reform in Tunisia / Stephen J. King.
p. cm. - (Indiana series in Middle East studies)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-253-34212-0 (alk. paper) - ISBN 0-253-21583-8 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Democracy-Tunisia. 2. Local government-Tunisia. 3. Structural adjustment (Economic policy)-Tunisia. I. Title. II. Series.
JQ3336 .K56 2003
1 2 3 4 5 08 07 06 05 04 03
List of Tables
1. Liberalization against Democracy
2. Neo-liberal Transformation in Tunisia
3. Marketization and the Retraditionalization of Local Politics
4. Neo-traditionalism in Tebourba
5. Structural Adjustment and the Small Peasantry
6. The Politics of Empowering the Winners of Economic Reform
1. Total Acreage in Tunisia by Property Type, 1985
2. Tunisia: Growth Rate of Per Capita GDP
3. Size Distribution of Income (Percentage Share of Household Income)
4. Dual Agricultural Economy at Independence
5. Small Plots in the Lower Medjerda Valley
6. Global Production at the End of the Protectorate, 1955-56
7. Income Distribution, 1961 (in U.S. Dollars)
8. Land Distribution, 1962
9. Cooperatives Leased in Tebourba since 1991
10. Changes in the Distribution of Landholding
T HE OPPORTUNITY TO participate in and observe a rural community in the midst of widespread land privatization and other elements of a standard structural adjustment program spurred the early research that gave rise to this book. Two years spent in the patronage-ridden Moroccan countryside had led me to question whether conventional economic reforms would necessarily lead to the creation of the self-help market-oriented society and more democratic politics presumably envisioned by the World Bank and Tunisian architects of Tunisia s neo-liberal economic transformation.
I arrived in rural northwest Tunisia in 1993 and settled in the village of Tebourba for a twelve-month stay. Initially, I attempted to take a snapshot of Tebourba s political community. I began with participant observation and qualitative interviews of approximately forty-five minutes in order to determine who controlled what resources. At this point, I worked backward to discover how people arrived at their relative power positions. A portion of the interviews explored the strategies people used to obtain these resources. I also explored village institutions of welfare and insurance for the poor and the role of formal politics, including local and national elections and the farmers union. I interviewed officials and members of all social categories involved in agriculture. Most of the interviews took place in the fields of the farms themselves and in the offices of local officials. A Tunisian colleague and friend helped me arrange and conduct the early interviews and aided me with the transition from the Moroccan to the Tunisian dialect of Arabic. I conducted the later interviews alone. This textured portrait of contemporary political community in Tebourba as it undertakes market-oriented changes can be found in chapter 4 of this book. The names of the people of the community have been changed to protect their anonymity. The translations from Arabic and French are my own.
In order to more fully understand political community in the past in the region and the impact of structural adjustment on political community, I conducted archival and library research, consulting in particular the very useful earlier study of Tebourba by Mira Zussman. The historical perspective of my work can be found in chapter 3. Together, chapters 3 and 4 detail how state elites deliberately stimulated cultural traditionalism in order to sustain neo-liberal reforms; economic reform at the local level strengthened traditional patronage and decreased formal political participation.
In my case the local view of neo-liberal economic transformation led to broader questions about the connection between economic reform and political change at the national level. Chapter 1 of this book explores the theoretical underpinnings of the generally accepted proposition that economic liberalization leads to political liberalization. Chapter 2, however, argues to the contrary that economic reform in Tunisia as a whole subverted democratic tendencies.
A Social Science Research Council international pre-dissertation grant and a smaller grant from the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Affairs at Princeton University supported a six-week visit to Tunisia in early 1993. During that trip, the Tunisian scholar El-Baki Hermassi suggested Tebourba as a research site and planted the idea of a study that would piggy-back on Mira Zussman s earlier community study. The long period of field work conducted in 1993-94 was generously funded by a Fulbright grant. A post-doctoral fellowship from the Ford Foundation provided me with a year s funding to revise this book at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I am especially grateful to the fine library staff at that institution. Julia Voelker from Georgetown University was a particularly able research assistant during the editing process. I would also like to personally thank Atul Kohli, Lisa Anderson, John Bailey, and especially John Waterbury for their bracing intellectual engagement with my work.

Tunisian socialism began with an agricultural cooperative movement in the Lower Medjerda Valley region of Tunisia. Tebourba, the primary field site of this study, is located in the heart of this region.

The sharing of resources within communal organizations and reliance on ties with powerful patrons were recurrent ways peasants strove to reduce risks and to improve their stability, and both were condoned and frequently supported by the state.
-Eric Wolf, Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century
I N THE MID -1990 S , Tebourba, a large village in the fertile northwest region of Tunisia, began implementing land policies that were part of a structural adjustment program (SAP). The privatization of land was the final stage in the dismantling of the country s socialist project, as the state attempted to complete market-oriented changes that it had begun cautiously in the early 1970s. State-managed agricultural production cooperatives had formed the core of Tunisian socialism, and Tebourba is located in the heart of a region dominated by these cooperatives. The privatization of state farms under Tunisia s SAP involved a major shift in asset distribution, which caused considerable social and political turmoil. Large landholders were the primary beneficiaries of this land reform.
The impact of these trends in Tebourba was reflected in the attitudes expressed to me by local inhabitants while I was doing field work there in the 1990s; they are summed up in the following remarks made to me by three people in very different socioeconomic positions:
A poor peasant: The workers have become beggars. The sun shines on everyone. Normally the state looks after us all. Why give the land to the rich? They already have land. If you give them more they will no longer think of the poor. What are they going to do with more, buy another car? It s no good. You find people with a thousand hectares while others won t even have one hectare. The poor wanted land. Some farmers before got land and they re doing well. [In the early 1970s, a small amount of state land was distributed to former cooperative workers.] If you have connections you can get land. Those who were fired like me always go to the administration asking for work. We tell them, You fired us, so give me something to buy bread. Nothing happens. The cooperative used to employ eighty people, but now only thirty work there. Those thirty are almost always women because they are paid less. They work for twelve hours a day with someone standing over them the whole time. Men require four dinars a day [at the time of this interview, one dinar equaled approximately one U.S. dollar] while the women work for three-something. You know the ministry tells them to pay us five dinars a day.
The poor will always stay poor around here. The poor lack rai

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