Neopatrimonialism: Classification as a Way of Overcoming the Conceptual Stretching

Classification as a Way of Overcoming the Conceptual Stretching

Melnikov K.V.,

Cand. Sci. (Polit. Sci.), Research Fellow, Institute of Philosophy and Law, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

elibrary_id: 913396 | ORCID: 0000-0001-7200-659X | RESEARCHER_ID: AAB-7492-2020

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2018.02.06

For citation:

Melnikov K.V. Neopatrimonialism: Classification as a Way of Overcoming the Conceptual Stretching. – Polis. Political Studies. 2018. No. 2. P. 68-81. (In Russ.).


The article summarizes the claims made for increasingly popular neopatrimonialism concept. Formed as a response to non-obviousness of basic assumptions and conceptual lengthiness of transit paradigm, neopatrimonialism concept itself became to generate significant conceptual stretching in the analysis of states, political development that contrasts with the Western democratic patterns. Regarded as neopatrimonial, African, Latin American, Southeast Asian, Central Asian and Eastern European states vary greatly according to the imposing volume of settings: on the principles of bureaucracy functioning, on the degree of political competition, on the role and the spread depth of the patron-client networks, nepotism and other informal practices. Therefore, speaking about neopatrimonialism, researchers focus each time on a different set of characteristics. An impressive body of empiric neopatrimonial researches sprained his conceptual framework to significant confusion. Following the theory of conceptual stretching by D. Sartori, one can say that in comparative neopatrimonial studies there is violation of rules on climbing the ladder of abstraction. Against the background of a large number of empirical studies carried out in line with the neopatrimonial paradigm, researches on understanding neopatrimonial concept per se constitute a negligible percentage and require development. The indiscriminate and uncritical application of neopatrimonial paradigm can be overcome through the more complete conceptualization of the neopatrimonialism concept. One of the main tasks in this way is the classification of neopatrimonial regimes. Author analyzes the existing approaches to such classifications and justifies the necessity of separation neopatrimonial regimes for regulated and predatory forms. The article analyzes the concepts emerging in the related fields of Political Studies, for their ability to enrich the proposed classification of neopatrimonial regimes. The idea of predatory neopatrimonial forms enriched by achievements of the “predatory state” phenomenon research. Neoinstitutional dilemma of the credible commitment of property rights could potentially be fruitful to study the regulated forms of neopatrimonialism. This approach to classification of neopatrimonial regimes offers significant prospects for further operationalization and conceptualization of neopatrimonialism.

neopatrimonialism; patrimonial domination; predatory state; regulated neopatrimonialism; credible commitment of property rights; political regime; political institutes; conceptual stretching.


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Content No. 2, 2018

See also:

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Rozov N.S.,
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