Mediating bureaucrats: embedded economic action in the Mozambican sugar industry

Lars Buur*, Malin Nystrand*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article develops the concept of ‘mediating bureaucrats’ by exploring their role during liberal reforms that led to rehabilitation of the sugar industry in
Mozambique. By focusing on how relations between the state, government and business are mediated by a group of cadres who have occupied positions in different social domains, the article argues that these ‘mediating bureaucrats’ cannot easily be identified in one-dimensional terms as belonging to either the public or private sector, the state or the market. It is argued that as ‘socially embedded actors’, the group of ‘mediating bureaucrats’ are in a position to translate and mediate between diverse and sometimes conflicting interests and aspirations of the state, the government and business. We use the rehabilitation of the sugar industry in Mozambique to show how mediating bureaucrats adopted two practices – muddling through and translation – in order to straddle conflicting interests during different reform initiatives in post-independence Mozambique.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Modern African Studies
Volume58
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)337-360
Number of pages24
ISSN0022-278X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Mediating bureaucrats
  • Muddling through
  • Translation
  • Mediation
  • Liberal reforms
  • Sugar sector

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