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Dr. Matthew Sabbi

Sabbi Dr. Matthew Sabbi

Personal Information

Matthew Sabbi holds Dr. phil. in Development Sociology and has been a Postdoctoral researcher at the chair of Development Sociology, University of Bayreuth. His main research fields are sociology of development policy; political sociology of Africa (decentralization and local political reforms); and organizational sociology (particularly how actors’ behave and adapt to organizational reform). His most recent research, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, examines the everyday life of Ghanaian councillors and their motivation for running for office. The research project for the Cluster of Excellence in Bayreuth develops these themes even further with a focus on relational networks.  


Project Description

Studies on decision influence in decentralized structures in the global south focus on councillors’ apparent powerlessness to affect local decisions. Mayors, bureaucrats, neo-traditional actors, and political parties are seen as most powerful actors. Though elected councillors come under immense pressure to prove their relevance to their constituents, their conditions of work and incentives are often neglected. Intriguingly, little attention is paid to specific networks and relations of councillors that exact decision-making influence. In this project, I apply social network analysis together with detailed empirical data from Ghana to re-interpret the agency in everyday, mundane and mutually-constituted strategies of councillors. I focus on their relational networks and options and how these shore up councillors’ political power. I argue that these mundane, often contradictory, multiple relations and ever-shifting networks compel and yield connections that shore-up local political influence of councillors.

Selected Publications

  • 2017 Matthew Sabbi: Local state institutional reforms in Ghana: Actors, legitimacy and the unfulfilled promise of participatory development. Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag
  • 2017 Matthew Sabbi: Strategic bureaucracies: Transnational funding and mundane practices of Ghanaian local governments. Third World Quarterly, 38(4), 939–955. doi: 10.1080/01436597.2016.1176858
  • 2016 Matthew Sabbi & Collins Adjei Mensah: Juggling administrative institutions: Local state actors and the management of urban space in Kumasi, Ghana. Urban Forum, 27(1), 59–78.
  • 2016 Peter Narh, Cosmas Kombat Lambini, Matthew Sabbi, Van Dien Pham, & Trung Thanh Nguyen: Land sector reforms in Ghana, Kenya and Vietnam: A comparative analysis of their effectiveness. Land, 5 (2), 8 http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/land5020008
  • 2015 Matthew Sabbi: Competing interests of local political actors in the making of local government in Ghana. Modern Africa: Politics, History and Society, 3(1), 11–37.
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