Skip to content
      MESF in Partnership with GDP Stream (GOVERNANCE, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE)

Everyday Choices: The Role of Competing Authorities and Social Institutions in Politics and Development


Scholars and practitioners seek development solutions through the engineering and strengthening of state institutions. Yet, the state is not the only or often even the primary arena shaping how citizens, service providers, and state officials engage in actions that constitute politics and development. These individuals are members of religious orders, ethnic communities, and other groups that make claims about them, creating incentives that shape their actions. Recognizing how individuals experience these claims and view the choices before them is essential to understanding political processes and development outcomes. Taking an institutional approach, this Element explains how the salience of arenas of authority associated with various communities and the nature of social institutions within them affect politics and development. It establishes a framework of politics and development that allows for knowledge accumulation, guides future research, and can facilitate effective programming.

You can access the event flyer here.

You can access the event recording here.

Speaker: Prof Ellen Lust 

Prof Ellen Lust is the Founding Director of the Governance and Local Development Institute, established first at Yale University in 2013 and moved to the University of Gothenburg in 2015. Ellen received her M.A. in Modern Middle East and North African Studies (1993) and PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan (1997). She was previously a faculty member at Rice University (1997-2000) and Yale University (2000-2015), where she was chair of the Council on Middle East Studies and rose to the position of Full Professor before moving to Gothenburg on a Swedish Research Council International Recruitment grant. Ellen has also been a visiting scholar at the Institute of Graduate Studies (Geneva, Switzerland) and the Straus Institute at the New York University Law School.

Ellen has conducted fieldwork and implemented surveys in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, and Zambia. She has authored numerous books, textbooks, and articles including, most recently, “Land and Legibility: When Do Citizens Expect Secure Property Rights in Weak States?” American Political Science Review, May 2023 (with Karen E. Ferree, Lauren Honig, and Melanie Phillips) and The Middle East edited textbook (Sage, 2023).  Ellen’s current research examines the role of social institutions, local authorities and measuring governance. Ellen is a co-founder of the Transitional Governance Project, a founding associate editor of Middle East Law and Governance, and has served as an advisor and consultant to organizations including the Carter Center, Freedom House, NDI, UNDEF, UNDP, USAID, and the World Bank.

Date: 27 March 2023

Time: 12-1:00 PM Melbourne 

Building BC, Deakin University Corporate Centre, Burwood

Please RSVP to by 24 March 2023