In the Gap the State Left: Policy Feedback, Collective Behavior, and Political Participation in Zambia

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10 Scopus citations


In advanced industrial democracies, evidence suggests a positive relationship between inclusive public policy, collective behavior, and political participation. Yet Africa, which generally exhibits high levels of collective behavior, often has exclusionary policies and variable rates of political participation. Using Afrobarometer data and qualitative case analysis in Zambia, this paper argues that the links between collective behavior and political participation differ in African countries due to lower government capacity and weaker structures of accountability linking politicians to policy outcomes. Employing a policy feedback framework, it demonstrates that the policy context in which collective behavior emerges determines the extent to which it influences political participation. Specifically, low levels of service provision generate higher levels of collective behavior, indicating that communities organize in response to need. The extent to which this collective behavior results in political participation, however, depends in part on citizens’ political efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-531
Number of pages22
JournalStudies in Comparative International Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • African politics
  • Collective behavior
  • Policy feedback
  • Political participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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