The Transformation of Property Rights in the Gold Coast: An Empirical Study Applying Rational Choice Theory

Overview

One of Africa's greatest tragedies is its apparent inability to take advantage of the continent's abundant natural resources. While African countries constantly battle famine and poverty, only one fifth of the continent's 2.5 billion acres of arable land is cultivated. Although social scientists cite myriad reasons for this tragedy, the underlying and exacerbating factor is the nature of African land tenure. Throughout Africa, property rights to land are fluid and insecure. The result is that the farmer or ...
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Overview

One of Africa's greatest tragedies is its apparent inability to take advantage of the continent's abundant natural resources. While African countries constantly battle famine and poverty, only one fifth of the continent's 2.5 billion acres of arable land is cultivated. Although social scientists cite myriad reasons for this tragedy, the underlying and exacerbating factor is the nature of African land tenure. Throughout Africa, property rights to land are fluid and insecure. The result is that the farmer or entrepreneur who claims land under one property rights system is left uncertain when or if others will challenge his claim.

The Transformation of Property Rights in the Gold Coast explores the complex political process by which property rights are defined and enforced in two traditional states in colonial Ghana. The case studies ask how colonial institutions transformed indigenous political and economic life; and how colonization and decolonization affected prospects for future economic development and stability in Africa.

The introductory chapter outlines a theory for the transformation of property rights. The remaining chapters apply this formal theory through an empirical analysis of the transformation of property rights within an African context. These chapters draw explicitly on rational choice theories to analyze indigenous actors' attempts to redefine and enforce property rights to land by "reinventing" the traditions of their respective communities. These theories help to explain why property rights systems across Africa remain fluid and insecure.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Firmin-Sellers adds luster to the influential 'Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions' series in a tightly argued, well-researched monograph using two tribal/ethnic case studies to illustrate a series of analytical and theoretical propositions in political economy and beyond....The work's integration of field work with theoretical perspectives is remarkable. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and higher." R.M. Fulton, Choice

"...Firmin-Sellers has written an interesting book that will please those who subscribe to a revisionist version of rational-choice theory....All readers will benefit from her thoughtful and well-researched exposition of the evolution of property rights in the Gold Coast." Robert Fatton, Jr., American Political Science

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Product Details

Table of Contents


Series editors' preface     vii
Preface     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction     1
The Institutions of the Colonial State     19
The logic of indirect rule     21
The Reinvention of Tradition: The Evolution of Property Rights Under Indirect Rule     33
Institutional failure in the Ga state     36
Institutional creation in Akyem Abuakwa: The politics of property rights     59
The Transition to Independent Government     91
Redefining the institutions of central government: The writing of the Coussey Constitution     95
The return to the traditional state     114
Conclusion     144
Notes     159
Bibliography     183
Index     193
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