(B2/B3) Ethnic Mobilization and Alliance Strategies by Societal Elites

A second batch of mechanisms in this set centres on state-elite alliances, that is, on coalitions between societal elites and the state. Our starting point is ethnic mobilization and we analyse how differences in the demands and location of mobilized ethnic groups can affect the alliance strategies of societal elites vis-a-vis the state. Specifically, when ethnic mobilization involves redistributive claims and unfolds close to urban centres, which is where economic elites are more likely to be concentrated, then these upper classes are likely to see it as especially threatening to established property relations and to their economic status. These concerns about the potential loss of their privileged position make it more likely that economic elites will seek an alliance with the state against ethnic contenders. Upper groups are willing to pay higher taxes in exchange for the provision of security and the repression of popular threats. The alliance with the state thus helps societal elites to maintain their economic and political privileges, while enhancing the state's extractive capacity. On the other hand, when ethnic mobilization does not make class-based demands and occurs in relatively distant rural areas it poses much less of a threat for the established elites and they are less likely to seek an alliance and cooperate with the extractive efforts of the state.

Dan Slater (2010) develops and tests this mechanism for the context of South East Asia. In mid-twentieth-century Indonesia, ethnic mobilization was class based and took place in cities prompting societal elites to form encompassing 'protection pacts' with the state, which greatly enhanced the state's extractive capacities. Ethnic rebellions in the Philippines, by contrast, unfolded in remote provinces and were not redistributive in their demands, societal elites felt less threatened and formed flimsy elite pacts with the state, ultimately resulting in a state with relatively poor extractive capacities.

The effect of ethnic mobilization on elite-state alliances might also, however, be the reverse, with ultimately negative implications for state capacity. Economic elites who find their positions threatened by ethnic mobilization that advances demands for redistribution and the reordering of political power structures might be more inclined to withdraw their support from the state, reduce their tax payments, and instead focus their efforts on retaining their elite status by establishing private security measures and/or promoting the territorial reorganization of the state. Kent Eaton's (2007, p. 2011) study of Bolivia and Ecuador provides a particularly stark example of this mechanism variant. In these two countries, characterized by sharp geographical divisions between the centres of economic activity and the political capital, economic elites are greatly concerned about the recent rise of indigenous politics. In response, elites push for greater territorial autonomy among the economically most prosperous regions and the devolution of tax authority to these sub-national units, thereby undermining the extractive competence of the central state.

Taken together, the mechanisms developed in this section so far link ethnicity to state capacity outcomes via the alliance strategies of societal elites. Distinct patterns of ethnic exclusion or ethnic mobilization result in different cross-class alliances (i.e. coalitions between upper and lower strata of the same ethnic group) and/or elite-state coalitions (i.e. pacts between powerful economic forces and the state), which in turn shape the extractive capacity of states. The next section continues the focus on how ethnicity influences state capacity through its impact on collective actors but shifts the focus away from societal elites to state elites.

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