WP4The ethnographic study of corruption practices

This work package is led by the University of Bergamo. The scale surveys of corruption within the EU member states show that not only corruption varies among nations, but that in some countries there are huge regional variations. Anthropological studies of corruption have revealed that in order to account for the high variations of this phenomenon in different socio-cultural contexts qualitative, ethnographic investigations are needed. This work package takes the challenge of detecting those socio-cultural variables that more significantly account for varying occurrences of corruption around the world.

Through comparative and ethnographic investigations it sheds light onto issues such as the existence of multiple moralities that may allow for the resilience of corrupt practices, the legitimacy processes at the core of political action, informal patterns of institutional arrangements, culturally defined value orientations and the historical contexts under which these orientations have developed. A second approach investigates legitimacy and trust in local government institutions, particularly in the health sector, in relation to conditions such as weakness of the state, widespread poverty, institutional unaccountability and generalised perception of the harms of corruption.

The methodological strength of anthropology is its emphasis on participant observation through fieldwork research. The ethnographers in this work package will undertake extensive fieldwork research in one selected location in each country, conducting interviews, observing and mapping patterns of interaction between local politicians, institutions and citizens, public participation in local politics, practices of gift exchange, informal economy, bribes, favours, as well as forms of social protest against corruption

The ethnographic research will be conducted in a number of countries of four different institutional configurations: old EU members, new members, pre-accession members and non members. The countries in which ethnographic research will be conducted are: Italy, Hungary, Bosnia, Kosovo, Turkey, Russia, Tanzania, and Mexico.

The final objective of this work package is to produce, through fine-grained case studies, a number of qualitative socio-cultural indicators which can be used to complement and contrast quantitative, national and sub-national indicators for the analysis and prediction of patterns of corruption in different regional settings.