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African Politics and Problems in Development

Richard L. Sklar and C.S. Whitaker
ISBN: 978-1-55587-244-1
1991/371 pages/LC: 90-49549

"Sklar and Whitaker argue the need for complex, empirically grounded analysis as opposed to elegant but misleading theory."—Journal of Modern African Studies

"Their scholarship has... bridged the traditional, but spurious, gap between area specialists and comparative analysts."—African Studies Review

"When the history of political science on Africa is written, the book definitely will occupy a central place for its commitment to a grass-roots approach, for paying attention to culture, and for its rich empirical base."—Economic Development and Cultural Change


These essays are the work of two scholars who have been closely associated with the field of African studies and with one another for more than three decades. During this period, each in his own way dissented from formulations associated with modernization and functionalist theories, which were pervasive when they began their studies. In major books, Sklar explored the political implications of social-class formation in Nigeria, while Whitaker demonstrated the reality of cultural continuity in Nigerian political behavior and organization.

These themes are carried forward in this book in essays on the independence movement, the postcolonial crises in Nigeria, and the tenacious struggle for democracy and development in African societies. The authors hold that these phenomena are connected challenges rather than sequential processes. Their rejection today of economistic and ethnocentric theories of political change and democracy is consistent with the alternatives they offered to the dominant intellectual paradigms of the 1960s and 1970s, as is the central place they assign to basic conceptions of liberty and justice.


Richard L. Sklar is professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles. C. S. Whitaker is dean of the Division of Social Sciences and Communication at the University of Southern California.


  • A Perspective on Scholarship in African Studies.
  • The Contribution of Tribalism to Nationalism in Western Nigeria.
  • Political Parties and National Integration in Nigeria.
  • Contradictions in the Nigerian Political System.
  • Three Perspectives on Hierarchy.
  • Nigerian Politics: The Ordeal of Chief Awolowo.
  • Nigerian Politics in Perspective.
  • A Dysrhythmic Process of Political Change.
  • Political Science and National Integration: A Radical Approach.
  • The Nature of Class Domination in Africa.
  • Second Beginnings: The New Political Framework in Nigeria.
  • Democracy in Africa.
  • The Unfinished State of Nigeria.
  • Reds and Rights: Zimbabwe's Experiment.
  • Developmental Democracy.
  • Beyond Capitalism and Socialism in Africa.
  • Doctrines of Development and Precepts of the State: The World Bank and the Fifth Iteration of the African Case.
  • A Coda on Afrocentricity.