2017-2018 Grant in Aid of Research

Political Economy of Mob Justice in Madagascar

Angy Plata

Mob justice can be defined as a mob, sometimes hundreds of people, taking the law into their own hands and punishing an alleged criminal in order to see “justice.” This phenomenon is widespread and pervasive in Madagascar, with an increasing amount of mob justice cases being reported by the media each year, raising concerns from the international community. This research explores the political economy explanation of the incidence of mob justice, with an emphasis on the interplay between formal and informal institutions. Research shows that when formal institutions are weak, a power vacuum is created and informal institutions emerge. As such, we propose that the interplay between formal (justice system) and informal institutions (belief in “tsiny and “tody”) has become a filler for this vacuum and has resulted in becoming a substitutive informal institution, ultimately leading to a rise in mob justice incidents. Our study will focus on three research questions: Has the failure of formal systems led to tsiny and tody becoming a substitutive informal institution, which has in turn resulted in mob justice? Who are the stakeholders, and what are their incentives in regards to mob justice? And, what is the way forward in managing mob justice? To answer these questions, we will conduct qualitative research among the Malagasy to collect stories surrounding mob justice incidences. We will also quantitatively assess perceptions of the causes and solutions of mob justice by distributing surveys to civil society members, community members, law enforcement, and policy makers.