Honors College Theses

Publication Date



International Studies (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Srobana Bhattacharya


Patron-client relations affect politics in various ways, especially the efficacy and implementation of policies. My research question is how does patronage politics affect policy change in democracies. I examine four democracies, two from the Global North (Canada and the United States) and two from the Global South (Botswana and South Africa). Using news articles and government websites surrounding a major issue in each of my four cases, I use qualitative methods (document analysis) to analyze patron-client relations in order to determine key actors in patron-client relations.

Thesis Summary

Patronage has many different understandings, and while they are mostly negative, there is no difference between patron-client relations and democracy. By looking at the Global North and the Global South, it is evident that patronage has evolved. Where it has stayed overt, it has become covert in line with connotations about patronage. The covert nature of patronage is hidden, but no different and destabilizing as the most overt forms found in the Global South. The nature of patronage, covert or overt, has major effects on the lives of normal people.