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Conclusions: The State In Society

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Chapter Summary

The detailed ethnographic account of the various aspects of civil service reform reveals two contradictions underlying the governance reforms promoted by the World Bank and the IMF. The first one is the contradiction between the principles of ownership and conditionality. The second is the one between two conflicting conceptions of the state informing good governance policies. It is seen as both a modernizing influence and as an obstacle to the development of society. The author shows how the indeterminacy resulting from these contradictions created considerable room for manoeuvre for my informants who struggled to come to terms with the almost complete over- haul of Malawi's political and economic order during the 1990s.

Keywords: Africa; civil service; IMF; paradoxical policies; World Bank



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