Seeing like the networked state: Subnational governance in Afghanistan
Instead of the strong, merit-based institutions that provide ‘good’ governance and access to basic services envisioned at the Bonn conference, governance in Afghanistan rests on highly exclusionary and volatile networks of access. Regional elite networks, and the system as a whole, have created and sustain ‘durable disorders’ at subnational level, stitched together through network ties to resemble the centralised government laid out in the Afghan constitution. While institutions exist in name and edifice, network connections are what govern access to resources – being appointed as a governor, gaining employment in the civil service, obtaining the release of a relative from police custody, securing the right to sell vegetables in a bazaar, and so on. As a result, there are no truly ‘public’ goods, and even the most basic forms of protection or access to education and economic opportunities must be sought through network ties.