Until recently, political science literature on clientelism has paid little attention to this question and conceptualized poor citizens as willing vote sellers. In contrast, ethnographic literature on the topic highlights the agency of (potential) clients and the varying views they have on these exchanges.
Our project systematically studies the demand side of clientelism and seeks to understand the trade-offs of and welfare implications for citizens when engaging in clientelism. We consider a different clientelistic practices in rural and urban environments, including vote-buying, relational, and collective forms of clientelism. We conduct focus groups and survey experiments in rural and urban settings in Tunisia and South Africa to learn more about local practices as well as the perceptions and attitudes of the clients.
The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).