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The Socialization of Private Sector Elites in Kenya

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SOPRISEKEN (The Socialization of Private Sector Elites in Kenya)

Reporting period: 2017-05-09 to 2019-05-08

SOPRISEKEN focuses on the sociability of professional and managerial elites in modern Kenya. Studying socialization, and in particular the membership organizations in which it takes place, is a particularly fruitful way to understand how these elites have experienced the social and economic changes triggered in Africa by the “structural adjustment” policies of the 1980s; how they have come to understand themselves as a distinct social group - the “private sector” - sharing comparable social aspirations, lifestyle and economic ethos; and how the articulation of their interests has led to the development of similar civic and political attitudes.

As regard to society and the general public, SOPRISEKEN makes issues regarding to African societies more understandable to European citizens, especially at times the migrant crisis brings to Europe populations, some of which from Africa, whose social background Europeans know too little. SOPRISEKEN thus provides information on issues which increasingly affect the daily lives of European citizens.

SOPRISEKEN overall objectives are therefore to allow the experienced researcher to build a specialized bibliography ; to receive training in political anthropology ; to build trans-disciplinary hypothesis as regards to the formation of the private sector in Kenya; to test these hypothesis during a fieldwork in Kenya ; to build a new analytical framework to be presented at conference and that will be the subject of several publications.
The project started on 9th May 2017. The first 2 Months were dedicated to a bibliographical Survey (TO2, months 1-2) and led to the establishment of a structured reading list in collaboration with the Supervisor, in general and political Anthropology, as well as a complementary survey in East African and Kenyan studies. This first phase was concluded by the writing of a generalist, contextual bibliography for the project. Month 3-4 were then dedicated to the training in the Political Anthropology of neo-liberalism in Africa (TO1a, months 3-6). This essential part of SOPRISEKEN helped the ER to gain up-to-date expertise in Anglo-American anthropological traditions dealing
with the study of neo-liberalism and its effects in Africa. This last phase was not fully implemented, since the project was interrupted at the end of month 4.
4 months were enough to build a specialized, interdisciplinary bibliography on neo-liberalism and the private sector in contemporary Africa. In terms of dissemination, the project was presented during a conference at Trinity College, Cambridge, during a Marie Curie event at the Cambridge Centre for postdoctoral affairs, and at the conference of the French Association of Sociology. In terms of impact on the training of the ER, it allowed him to build fruitful connexions with anthropologists, historians and political scientists in Cambridge, before he was hired on a permanent position in France, starting September 2017 (Full Professorship in Politics).