Political Corruption: The Ghana Case

By Victor T. Le Vine | Go to book overview

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The Culture of Political Corruption: Supportive Values

One element of any political culture is the structure of supportive values and orientations that define, among other things, what is politically legitimate in society and what is not. In Ghana, the development of an incipient culture of political corruption was accompanied by an evolving structure of values that had the effect of rationalizing, if not legitimizing, corrupt behavior. Between December 1970 and June 1971, the author had the opportunity to interview in depth a dozen men who were actively involved in the widespread corruption of the Nkrumah regime, and to explore at length the values and attitudes that underlay their behavior. The interviewees are not identified in this study since all were promised absolute anonymity, but it can be reported that all were officials either in the Nkrumah government or in the Convention People's Party. One was a junior minister, two held high party office, and the rest operated at various official and semiofficial levels of the regime. By the time they were interviewed, most of them had gone into business and several were dealing regularly with the current government. Only two were technically unemployed, but even these admitted they had stable sources of income, in both cases deriving in part from investments and contacts made during their terms in office.

The author explored the twelve respondents' political values in four main areas: (1) general attitudes toward authority, authority figures, and government; (2) perceptions of political efficacy; (3) parameters of obligation and individual responsibility; and (4) retrospective attitudes concerning their own corrupt behavior and the like behavior of others. It must be emphasized that the interviews were conducted informally, although the respondents were told in advance what pre-

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