Pork, by Any Other Name...Building a Conceptual Scheme of Distributive Politics
33 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2009
When parties or candidates get voters to support them not by promising desirable public policies, advertising their past record in office, making ideological appeals, invoking shared identities, or relying on partisan attachments, but instead by offering them material inducement, scholars are not sure what to call this strategy. The problem is more than terminological: without clear conceptual distinctions, our attempts at causal explanation can be frustrated. Much research in distributive politics is implicitly motivated by a sense that these strategies depart from what is normatively desirable. Yet just as conceptual confusion obscures causal explanation, so it obscures normative considerations. This paper proposes a conceptual scheme to distinguish terms and concepts such as clientelism, patronage, vote buying and pork-barrel and distributive politics, and others. The distinctions are guided by the scope of strategies that one observes in the world and by their normative implications.
Keywords: Distributive politics, pork-barrel politics, clientelism, patronage, vote-buying
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