In recent years, few concepts have captured conflict and development specialists’ imagination as profoundly as the idea of a ‘political settlement’: Political Settlements Analysis (PSA) is increasingly being used by academics and development practitioners to analyze and advise on conflict-peace transitions, country development strategy and anti-corruption policy.
Despite its current popularity, there is no single definition of a political settlement that commands widespread support, with different groups and individuals using it in diverse and sometimes contradictory ways. Moreover, some of the most influential variants of the approach are marred by conceptual ambiguities, while none provide clear guidelines for how to measure and categorise political settlements. This both limits the usefulness of Political Settlements Analysis and forestalls its acceptance in mainstream social scientific circles.
ESID’s ‘Defining and Measuring Political Settlements’ project consequently seeks to refine the definition of a political settlement and create a concept that is acceptable to both conflict and development specialists. In addition, it has devised rigorous guidelines for measuring political settlements, and is piloting a new survey, the aim being to chart the evolution of political settlements within and across twelve countries. If successful, the pilot will then be expanded to as many as 50 countries.
Planned outputs from the project include:
- A political settlements codebook and survey instrument;
- A publicly accessible dataset, initially of ten countries, with scope for expansion;
- A multi-authored book which, among other things, will provide:
- a new political settlement concept;
- a game-theoretic account of political settlements;
- guidelines for settlement measurement;
- tests of old and new political settlement typologies and hypotheses;
- reflections on the relevance of political settlements analysis to development practice