Corruption and the secret of law: An introduction

Gerhard Anders, Monique Nuijten

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses the current prominence of corruption in academic literature and international policy circles. It presents an overview of dominant social-scientific approaches and their limitations, arguing for an anthropological perspective. The chapter argues that the current debate about corruption is shaped by the division between the state and society and a corresponding public-private dichotomy. It further argues that the study of corruption cannot be an end in itself but should rather be a field of inquiry to understand power relations in society at large. The chapter addresses often neglected but crucial aspects of corruption, namely the importance of performance, the meaning of different discursive registers, the prevalence of conspiracy theories and fantasies surrounding corrupt practices, and the role of corruption accusations. It asserts that the discrepancy between public denouncement and secret endorsement should even be seen as a manifestation of the fact that the public fight against corruption is necessary for the reproduction of the murky corrupt underworld.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCorruption and the Secret of Law
Subtitle of host publicationA Legal Anthropological Perspective
EditorsGerhard Anders, Monique Nuijten
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781315259208
ISBN (Print)9780754676829, 9781138415461
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2009


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