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Institutional transfer in Western Samoa : a case study in mutual adjustment


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Snell, RD 1993 , 'Institutional transfer in Western Samoa : a case study in mutual adjustment', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In this thesis I have considered two alternative methods of studying the processes of institutional transfer. The acceptance and adoption of institutions (many based on Western examples) is a central feature of modern politics in the South Pacific. This study has demonstrated that a variant of a theory proposed by Kerry Howe, which I have labelled "mutual adjustment", provides an explanatory framework that assists understanding about institutional transfer processes.
Western Samoa was chosen as a case study to examine several examples of institutional transfer. I have concluded that in the case of Western Samoa, mutual adjustment offers strong research benefits because it accords due significance to the vitality, durability and adaptability of fa'a Samoa. Other interpretations, like modernisation theory, undervalue the strategic importance of Islander culture in the processes of institutional transfer. An analysis, based on theories like modernisation, would have predicated the eventual replacement of fa'a Samoa elements and institutions with new, modern, individual orientated practices and institutions. Previously political analysis of institutional transfer has been almost exclusively framed in terms of adjudicating how closely the imported version matches the original model. The end result of this adjudication is to derive a political analysis of South Pacific microstates that concentrates presentation of information in terms of losses or gains for the traditional or Western elements of the system. This analytical focus is directed at only one part of a very complicated and dynamic process. The misdirection is compounded because the static is emphasised at the cost of the dynamic.
The four case studies of institutional transfer chosen for this study were the adoption of a liberal democratic parliamentary system, political parties, a statutory legal system and trade unionism. Each of these four key examples of institutional transfer demonstrated different aspects of mutual adjustment. In each case an accommodation was reached between the demands of the imported or adopted institution and the cultural imperatives of fa'a Samoa.
I concluded that a key feature of Western Samoa politics is a dynamic process of adjustment between the imperatives of fa'a Samoa and the requirement ( driven by local forces or external demands) to adopt institutional arrangements which are based on Western examples. Mutual adjustment offers an analytical framework which accords due significance to the role, vitality and strategic importance of islander culture in this dynamic process.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Snell, RD
Keywords: Mutualism
Copyright Holders: The Author
Additional Information:

Includes bibliographical references. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1995

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