Researching the politics of development



The impact of ethnicity on state capacity


The aim of this project is to arrive at some general theoretical formulations about the influence of ethnicity on state capacity, by identifying and developing distinct causal mechanisms through which ethnicity shapes the ability of states to pursue their projects.

Research focus

The main goal of this research is to identify the specific causal mechanisms that link ethnicity to state capacity and delimitate the contexts and conditions under which these mechanisms are likely to operate. The starting point is that different conceptualisations of ethnicity – that is, whether ethnicity is approached in terms of demographic diversity, dynamics of exclusion, or ethnic-based collective action – lead to distinct causal mechanism hypotheses about the effects of ethnicity on state capacity.

Methods and research design

The research takes the form of a series of workshops. The first workshop will be exploratory and aim to develop hypotheses. The second workshop will build on the first, aiming to translate the mechanisms, hypotheses and explanatory contexts into a general analytical framework with a set of case studies.

How does this project fit within ESID’s research agenda?

This research initiative directly addresses ESID’s overall goal to identify the political drivers of inclusive development by focusing on ethnicity as a previously neglected determinant of state capacity.


Co-Lead ResearcherPrerna SinghHarvard University, USA
Co-Lead ResearcherMatthias vom HauBarcelona Institute of International Studies