Retreat of the state and the market: liberalisation and education expansion in Sudan under the NCP
Mann, Laura Elizabeth
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This thesis is an analysis of two concurrent processes - the liberalisation of the economy and the expansion of the tertiary education system - by the National Islamic Front (NIF)/National Congress Party (NCP) in Khartoum, Sudan. It is based on 18 months fieldwork conducted between 2008 and 2010, combining qualitative material from interviews, focus groups and field notes with a questionnaire administered to 300 employees in 14 organisations and 100 other individuals on public transportation. This questionnaire was adapted from Mark Granovetter’s survey of job information in the United States. The thesis makes both theoretical and empirical contributions. It examines the extent to which liberalisation has developed ‘markets’ by looking at communication in the labour market from the point of view of university graduates and managers in different fields. In contrast to Granovetter’s theory of ‘the strength of weak ties’ (SWT), it shows a trend of strong and strengthening ties in the Sudanese labour market. It argues that the combination of politically motivated liberalisation and the drastic expansion of education has plunged Sudan into a state of ‘hyperinflation’ of its qualifications, making public information about candidates untrustworthy and encouraging managers to use more personal sources of information to evaluate candidates. A simultaneous privatisation and internationalisation of opportunity has ensued. Educational expansion and liberalisation have dissolved the national cognitive space of the labour market and have forced actors to construct their own private economic spaces and to draw on transnational spaces in order to deal with uncertainty. The thesis therefore demonstrates an incongruity between ‘liberalised markets’ and the ‘markets’ envisioned by economic models (spaces of communication and coordination between strangers). It concludes by arguing that the retreat of both state and market has contributed to the ethnic fragmentation of Sudan under the NCP.