What is Corruption?: A History of Corruption Studies and the Great Definitions Debate
50 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2011
Date Written: June 2005
This paper reviews the evolution of corruption studies over time, with a focus on the second half of the 20th century when the study of corruption closely mirrored increased interest in issues of democratization and economic development. The paper also reviews the great definitional debates of the 1950s and 1960s, and explains the reasons for the convergence towards a public-office centered definition in the 1980s and 1990s. These definitional debates have had a lasting impact on the corruption literature, and they have influenced the different ways in which scholars have attempted to study corruption in recent years. The paper concludes with a discussion on the benefits and shortcomings of a public-office centered definition, and a warning about the relative imprecision of cross-national surveys.
Keywords: corruption, definitions, definition, history, public office, market, democratization, literature review
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