About the Speaker:
Gabi Kruks-Wisner is an Assistant Professor of Politics & Global Studies at The University of Virginia.
About the Lecture:
In developing democracies across the globe, the poor often turn to local political intermediaries to gain access to essential public goods and services. Overlooked in the literatures on distributive politics and citizenship practice, however, are sub-national institutional factors that drive variation in citizen demand for intermediaries. Drawing on a rich assemblage of survey data and qualitative fieldwork from northern India, we find that the urban poor are significantly more likely to approach political intermediaries for assistance than their rural counterparts, who are more likely to turn directly to local elected representatives. Our explanation of this puzzling divergence focuses on three contextual factors that differ sharply across the rural-urban divide in India: the depth of political and administrative decentralization; the organization and local presence of political parties; and the impressive ethnic diversity and migratory fluidity found in India’s cities, which prevent migrants from relying on informal institutions found in their villages of origin. This seminar is based on a co-authored work with Adam Auerbach (American University).