Last summer UCLA Professor Miriam Golden and I did a radio interview on political corruption for a program called The Scholars’ Circle, hosted by Maria Armoudian. I just learned that a recording of the program is available online, and I thought it might be of interest to some readers of this blog. The recording can be found here; the discussion about corruption begins at 17:16.
The relatively brief but wide-ranging discussion, skillfully moderated by Ms. Armoudian, touches on five major issues (issues that we’ve also covered on this blog):
- How should we define corruption, and how can we try to measure it? (at 18:11-26:31 on the recording)
- Possible factors that might contribute to the level of corruption, including economic development, governance systems (democracy v. autocracy), social norms, and culture (26:32-32:41)
- Whether and how countries can make the transition from a state of endemic corruption to a state of manageable/limited corruption—as well as the risk of backsliding (32:52-47:32)
- What will the impact of the Trump Administration be on corruption, and on norms of integrity and the rule of law, in the United States? (47:42-52:02)
- What are some of the main remedies that can help make a system less corrupt? (52:03-56:34)
There’s obviously a limit to how deep one can go in a format like this, and the program is geared toward a non-specialist audience, but I hope some readers find the conversation useful in stimulating more thinking on the topics we covered. Thanks for listening!
Thanks for this, Matthew. A few weeks earlier, Susan Rose-Ackerman (Yale, USA), Bruce Buchan (Griffith, Australia) and I (Nottingham, UK) had also done an interview with Maria Armoudian on The Scholars’ Circle, discussing the history of political corruption, including causes, effects and remedies. The link to the broadcast is here: http://bit.ly/2Gvs7Sd. As you rightly say, these discussions are very much geared to non-specialists, but it was fun to do and some readers may enjoy comparing and contrasting with your own discussion with Miriam.
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Based on the discussion, it seems that transitioning away from a culture of corruption heavily depends on public perception. For instance, Professor Golden mentioned that voters can eject from office political elites that are known to be corrupt, and Professor Stephenson mentioned that media funding sources affect political coverage and therefore the information to which the public has access. I can imagine that in many countries—particularly where the press is closely linked with a corrupt government—a cultural shift away from corruption would be extremely difficult. A corrupt government that has influence over national media has a wide platform to affect public opinion and keep itself in office.