Comparing Apples and Mangoes

The Overpoliticized State in Developing Countries

By S. N. Sangmpam

Subjects: Economy And Society
Paperback : 9780791471142, 345 pages, January 2008
Hardcover : 9780791471135, 345 pages, July 2007

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. Comparing Apples and Mangoes
           The Mischaracterization of Third World Experiences
           Setting the Framework: Comparing Apples and Mangoes
           Politics and Overpoliticization
2. Sins of Universalism and Particularism
           From the Behavioral Revolution to Modernization Theory
           Democratization by Institutional Fiat
           Universalism from the Left
           Particularism and Anti-Third Worldism
           Particularism in South America, Asia, and Africa
3. Overpoliticization: Empirical and Historical Evidence
           Overpoliticized Behaviors in Democratic Regimes
           Overpoliticized Behaviors in Authoritarian Regimes
           Overpoliticized Behaviors Common to Democratic and Authoritarian Regimes
           Overpoliticized Behaviors in Western Countries
           Conclusion: Differences and Similarities
4. Overpoliticization: Quantitative Evidence
           Data and Procedure
           Results and Interpretation
           Conclusion: Differences and Similarities
5. Understanding the Overpoliticized State
           Political Institutions and the State as Effects of Politics
           Compromise-Resistant Politics and the Overpoliticized State
           The Liberal Democratic State as the Conceptual Contrast
6. Basic Hypotheses About the Overpoliticized State
           What Explains Liberal Compromise?
           What Explains Overpoliticization?
Selected Bibliography

Uncovers important similarities in the political features of developing countries in Africa, Asia,and Latin America.


Two competing approaches currently dominate the debate about the state and institutions in developing countries. The first projects a picture of transnational, vertical uniformity descending from the West to developing countries and views liberal democracy as "the only game in town." In this view, the state and institutions resemble or ought to resemble those in the West. The second, by contrast, explains political outcomes by local idiosyncrasies and regional variations in institutions. In his original approach to third world politics, S. N. Sangmpam challenges both views by uncovering important similarities in the political features of developing countries. He shows that they share political behaviors and features unaccounted for in either local/idiosyncratic or liberal democratic theories. These behaviors converge toward a common property—overpoliticization—that defies political compromise, leading to an overpoliticized state. Sangmpam provides a wealth of empirical, historical, and quantitative evidence from Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the West and demonstrates the overpoliticized state constitutes the cornerstone of an integrated theory of politics in developing countries.

S. N. Sangmpam is Associate Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University and author of Pseudocapitalism and the Overpoliticized State: Reconciling Politics and Anthropology in Zaire.