Kathleen Collins, The Logic of Clan Politics in Central Asia: Its Impact on Regime Transformation (2006), Chapter 2.

_Summary: _ Collins identifies and articulates the ‘clan’ as an important actor, and investigates the impact they have upon regime trajectories in modern states. Clans are distinct from other groups in that they rely on _kinship_ as the core foundation of relations and identity, and a _network_, which is the organizing principle of the unit.  These two factors supply a context for rational action to occur (limits). Clans serve several roles, from bolstering the effectiveness of socioeconomic interactions to reinforcing internal identity norms.  Importantly, clans cannot be understood in terms of ethnicity or ideology – they narrowly pursue their own economic and political interests and form sub-ethnic, and sub-national units.  They also cannot be confused with tribes, clientelism or corruption (which are institutions, not identities) or mafias (which do not require a kinship component).  Clans still persist in modernity due to their internal properties (identity is slow to change), but also because of their interaction with external factors in certain regions. They are more likely to persist in modernity when there is: i) late state formation (colonialism); ii) late formation of a national identity, and; iii) the absence of a market economy.  On each of these formations, the clan supplies mechanisms for overcoming the problems which the above seek to address, thus they persist and undermine modern states.


Collins makes the following propositions concerning the politics of clans

* 1. Clans may persist under strong colonial states under certain conditions, and may gain power under weak, declining ones

* 2. Clan pacts respond to threats and foster regime durability

* 3. Elites, ideology, and formal institution have only a short-term effect

* 4. Under transitional uncertainty clan politics emerges, pervading formal regimes and weakening regime durability in the longer term


Clans ————> Formal Regime ———-> Informal Regime of —–> Declining Regime Durability

(Kin Patronage)     (Democracy or Autocracy)    Clan Politics

(Asset Stripping)

(Crowding Out)