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Like Chameleons: Civil Servants And Corruption In Malawi

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that the ambivalence towards practices officially labelled as ?corrupt? is the consequence of the existence of alternative normative orders justifying and regulating corrupt practices. Continuously switching from one normative code to the other while negotiating their course between expectations from dependants, patrons, colleagues and superiors civil servants resemble chameleons as a case study of a civil servant will exemplify. The case study is followed by an analysis of the different sets of rules either prohibiting or justifying certain forms of corruption. The imagined disconnect between institutions imported by the colonial powers and African society or culture is seen as the cause of ?weak states? and ?failed states?. Finally, the ethnographic evidence shows that the simplistic dualisms do not account for the normative complexity in Malawi, arguably a stronger state than the usual suspects commonly cited, where several sets of rules co-exist in the same social field.

Keywords: African society; chameleons; civil servant; colonial powers; corrupt practices; corruption; Malawi



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