State culture and ethnicity in West Africa

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies

First Committee Member

Ambler Moss - Committee Chair


This is a study of state culture and ethnicity in West Africa, particularly Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria. These countries represent the diverse cultures and major economies of the West African region. State culture is a polarizing political culture originally created to achieve national unity.The state culture is a distinctly evolved ethnic grouping of different sections of the society. While conditions that lead to ethnic strife may exist within the make up of state culture, international politics and conduct often have a significant effect on ethnic conflict because the state culture is not inclusive. The state culture has to be inclusive to avoid ethnic conflict.The difference between state culture and the civic culture is that the civic culture (U.S.) is a melting pot where the rule of law is paramount. In the state culture predominant in West Africa, the group or group relations are hegemonic. In any society where group identity and group relations supercede the rule of law, personalities become paramount. In West African societies, these personalities (ethnic entrepreneurs) are crucial for the management of ethnic identity and group relations.Among various reasons for ethnic conflict in West Africa, the study found that the disproportionate presence of ethnic conflict is due to the incongruent mix of the ethnic and political classes into the leadership of state culture, which is heavily influenced by the international environment. Clearly, the leaderships of state cultures in West Africa have not developed a coherent and adequate strategy for maintaining and broadening their political base. Because state cultures in West Africa are not inclusive, the leadership may not have the civil authority to govern.The recommended solutions to the problems of state culture and ethnicity in West Africa include the establishment of a civic commonality among ethnic groups, reengineering of the political culture, active participation of developing countries in creating international regimes (political/economic), and strengthening of political infrastructures---all of which require strong and inclusive leaders.


Political Science, General; Political Science, International Law and Relations; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

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