2013 Submitted Papers
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Pride and prejudice: a critique of comparative corruption analysis
This paper questions the validity and pertinence of mainstream comparative corruption analysis to the contemporary international environment. As demonstrated by the exemplary case of Britain, variables commonly used to interpret cross-national perception indices – including economic performance, experience of democracy, and predominant religious tradition – are inadequate, outdated and biased indicators of actual levels of corruption. Such variables tend to be conflated with the indices they are supposed to interpret, with perceptions often being problematically employed as indicators of actual levels of corruption. Given that the employment of such ‘thin’ variables serves to justify rather than critically deconstruct perceptions of corruption, it is suggested that only a self-reflective and even-handed investment in ‘thick’ qualitative research on practices and perceptions of corruption, which situates both in relation to domestic and international structures of power, can hope to provide a basis for balanced and substantive comparative corruption analysis in the future.