GDL Faculty Affiliate Volha Charnysh will present an ongoing project, “Dispute Resolution in Heterogeneous Societies” (with Paige Bollen), at the Berkeley Comparative Politics Colloquium on November 18, 2021. The abstract for the project is featured below:
In the developing world, state courts coexist with customary legal orders. How do individuals choose between these competing forms of justice? We theorize that ethnicity affects legal strategies by shaping expectations about the fairness and effectiveness of arbitration. To assess, we randomize ethnicity of the disputants in a survey experiment in Accra, Ghana, where the jurisdictions of state courts and traditional leaders overlap. We find that respondents expect traditional leaders to favor coethnics, which increases recommendations that noncoethnics turn to state courts. Respondents also viewed traditional leaders as less effective though faster, relative to state courts – in line with existing research – but disputants’ ethnicity had no effect on these evaluations. We probe the generalizability of this findings using the 2008-2009 Afrobarometer survey. We show that respondents who live in more ethnically heterogeneous districts are less likely to identify chiefs as responsible for dispute resolution and perceive them as less influential.