Abstract

Jeffrey W. Paller, "Politics of Daily Life: Process, Networks, Spontaneity", September 2015

This paper develops the concept of ‘politics of daily life’ and proposes it as the root of the study of power and democracy. The politics of daily life is the practice of influencing how others act, think, and feel on a daily basis. It exposes the process of politics that causes divergent political behaviors, the informal networks that underlie formal political institutions, and the spontaneity of decision-making that shifts institutional pathways. Contextualizing politics in the context of daily life better reflects the realities that shape public opinion, institutional development, and political behavior—central concepts in the political science discipline. The paper provides evidence from three ethnographic case studies in Ghana: the process of voter registration and low-level electoral violence, the informal networks in a politician’s private office, and a fire outbreak in an informal settlement.

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