Trust, Malfeasance and Power: Understanding the users of police in developing countries


Melbourne Law School Room 221, Level 2 185 Pelham Street Carlton VIC 3053

Presented by Assistant Professor Mahvish Shami


About the presentation

The provision of law (security) is a basic public good in the modern state. The primary service providers of this public good are the police. However, in many developing societies, the police are not the only source of law and dispute resolution, with informal institutions and agents filling this role when formal institutions are considered corrupt, abusive, and ineffective. In addition, the decision to bring one's problems to an informal instead of formal body depends on the social context and relationships in which they are embedded where certain social ties and networks can generate trust in informal compared to formal institutions, or vice versa. Using unique data from rural Punjab, Pakistan, we explore the instrumental, normative, and sociological reasons for using informal compared to formal justice for dispute resolution.

About the speaker

Mahvish Shami has been a visiting research fellow at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, and worked as an external consultant for the World Bank. After completing her PhD she spent a year doing Post-Doctoral research at the Institute of Food and Resource Economics at Copenhagen University.  Her current research builds on her doctoral thesis by exploring the types of collective action projects peasants undertake in villages with varying levels of connectivity. Other publications by Mahvish Shami are available here