Elite Capture in Rural Development Programs: Investigating Long Run Path Dependency of Local Elites Using Historical Surname Data in Ireland

Conor Judge, Department of Sociology, Nuffield College, University of Oxford

Control of decision making bodies by elite groups along class, gender or political cleavages are a common occurrence in a number of fields. For bottom-up rural development schemes, they are a well-documented phenomenon which raises important questions about the suitability of local participation and equal representation in development bodies and community groups. The composition of rural areas also makes them particularly vulnerable to control by elite family groups due to generational inheritance patterns of land ownership in a particular place. This paper assesses the long run path dependency between elite surnames in 1911 and the surnames present on the boards of charities in Ireland in 2022. This is achieved using negative binomial regression methods, the Historical CAMSIS (HISCAM) scale, IPUMS historical census data, and web-scraped charity data at neighbourhood/parish level. Over 11,000 charities, 3400 neighbourhoods and approximately 75,000 surnames are assessed. Secondly, it applies this to the distribution of rural development funding in the modern day to answer whether area’s in which community groups show more evidence of elite capture are associated with higher levels of rural development funding obtained from domestic and EU sources. This paper contributes to the literature on inequality and attempts to redistribute between regions through a critical approach to rural development programs using historical and geospatial approaches. It assesses these themes in the Irish context through an EU funded program which is one of the largest in the world by value. The findings also complement research into elite capture in other development schemes such as the UNDP and World Bank by use of a novel historical approach to the investigation of long run path dependency in rural areas.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 206. Policymaking and rural municipalities