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Accidental Cumulation in Studies of Clientelism, Vote Buying, and Governance

The current focus of political science and political economy research in less developed countries lies with problems of governance, with a strong focus on clientelism and specifically on vote buying. With the exception of the Metaketa research on information campaigns, investigations into these topics have proceeded without formal coordination and, for the most part, via individually-designed case studies. Despite this disjointedness and informality, some findings seem to have cumulated. I argue that the main novel results to have emerged from this research stream come from uncovering new facts rather than articulating new causal questions or providing new answers to established questions. Thanks to the use of relatively standardized survey instruments and improved sampling methods, case studies now provide precise quantitative estimates of the frequency of vote buying. However, the wide range of new data points suggests we may need to rethink our understanding of previous causal investigations into vote buying.


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