Defining corruption where the state is weak: The case of Papua New Guinea (14732)
The state is often depicted as a unitary entity in academic scholarship, yet as Akhil Gupta (2012) notes, citizens have very different experiences with the state. This is particularly the case in developing countries. This paper argues that experience with and understandings of the state influences citizens perceptions about corruption in Papua New Guinea – a country classified as a ‘weak state’. Drawing upon qualitative and quantitative research conducted in PNG the paper finds that, for those with little experience with state services, corruption was more broadly defined than for those who had greater understanding of state rules, procedures and laws. This suggests that, for citizens, ‘weak states’ are not uniformly weak but display degrees of weakness. Where the state is weak, ‘corruption’ may act as a diagnostic of non-state actors more than the state itself. These findings have implications for how scholars understand corruption in developing countries.