Developmentalism and the politics of exercising citizenship among young people in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Most academic literature on developmental states focus on state-business relations, industrial & social policy issues. Citizenship is one of the missing themes in understanding developmental states & the politics of developmentalism. This presentation aims to answer how the politics of building a developmental state shapes the ways in which young citizens are exercising & claiming their rights. The talk has two components. In the first section, the presentation aims to trace and explain the historical roots of developmentalism in the Ethiopian context by using a “dual periodisation”. The first periodisation focuses on “critical junctures” in post-1974 Ethiopia that have continued to shape the dominant features of the Ethiopian state. The second periodisation takes the ‘evolution’ of EPRDF’s ideology of Revolutionary Democracy. Both temporal frameworks explain the role of dominant ideas & the resulting structural & institutional frameworks that have enabled the aspiration of developmentalism.

The second section presents the empirical insights on the politics of citizenship within an aspiring developmental state context. A conceptualisation of citizenship based citizenship rights, spaces & strategies helps to examine the implications of developmentalism on the citizenship of young people. Empirical findings will underscore process-oriented, relational & dynamic nature of citizenship. The various spacio-temporal contexts affect how citizenship rights contested, the spaces within which rights are claimed & exercised. The aspiring developmental state & the young people also adopted different strategies based on the elements of citizenship rights & the spaces in which the rights are contested.