Navigating Land Rights Institutions in the Greater Accra Region of Southern Ghana: An Actor Network Theory Approach

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Title: Navigating Land Rights Institutions in the Greater Accra Region of Southern Ghana: An Actor Network Theory Approach
Authors: Andrews, Erin
Date: 2018
Abstract: Especially since the publication of Hernando De Soto’s book The Mystery of Capital in 2000, there has been a great deal of scholarship on the relationship between property rights and economic growth. There is fairly broad consensus among policy makers and many academics that secure property rights have a wide range of benefits but significantly less agreement on what impedes secure property rights in developing countries, what types of rights work best and under what circumstances, or how to improve the situation in developing countries. Through a case study of land institutions and reform in the Greater Accra Region of Southern Ghana this thesis examines the complexities of overlapping and often contradictory land tenure regimes. Actor Network Theory is used to analyze the role of the various actors, including humans, organizations, and material actors, like documents. I argue that although the system of land rights institutions in Ghana is extremely complex, one of the main challenges is a relatively simple one: the materiality of the documents, and the related costs of producing, storing, managing, and maintaining them., Despite attempts by the state, with the support of the World Bank, to codify existing land relations, transaction costs have not been dramatically reduced. The result is a complicated environment of institutional pluralism, in which the documents involved in registration have taken on a life of their own, where users must recruit these material actors to support their land claims if they wish to have their rights protected. This process of producing and collecting documents to support their land claims can be costly for landholders, in terms of both time and money. In this way, the centrality of documents can be burdensome for landholders, but also creates interesting opportunities for landholders to mobilize land documents in unconventional ways in order to support their claims and seek protection for their rights to land. Especially since the publication of Hernando De Soto’s book The Mystery of Capital in 2000, there has been a great deal of scholarship on the relationship between property rights and economic growth. There is fairly broad consensus among policy makers and many academics that secure property rights have a wide range of benefits but significantly less agreement on what impedes secure property rights in developing countries, what types of rights work best and under what circumstances, or how to improve the situation in developing countries. Through a case study of land institutions and reform in the Greater Accra Region of Southern Ghana this thesis examines the complexities of overlapping and often contradictory land tenure regimes. Actor Network Theory is used to analyze the role of the various actors, including humans, organizations, and material actors, like documents. I argue that although the system of land rights institutions in Ghana is extremely complex, one of the main challenges is a relatively simple one: the materiality of the documents, and the related costs of producing, storing, managing, and maintaining them., Despite attempts by the state, with the support of the World Bank, to codify existing land relations, transaction costs have not been dramatically reduced. The result is a complicated environment of institutional pluralism, in which the documents involved in registration have taken on a life of their own, where users must recruit these material actors to support their land claims if they wish to have their rights protected. This process of producing and collecting documents to support their land claims can be costly for landholders, in terms of both time and money. In this way, the centrality of documents can be burdensome for landholders, but also creates interesting opportunities for landholders to mobilize land documents in unconventional ways in order to support their claims and seek protection for their rights to land.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/37072
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-21344
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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