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Indiana University Bloomington

Woodburn Hall facilities

Lauren M. MacLean
Associate Professor


Woodburn Hall 404 | (812) 856-2376 | Send Email

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  • B.A. University of Pennsylvania, 1991
  • M.A. University of California at Berkeley, 1995
  • PhD. University of California at Berkeley, 2002

Lauren M. MacLean (PhD University of California-Berkeley, 2002) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. She is an affiliate faculty member of IU’s Workshop of Political Theory and Policy Analysis, the African Studies Program, the Committee on Native American and Indigenous Studies, and the Center on Philanthropy. Her research interests are comparative political economy and public policy, with a focus on the politics of state formation, public goods provision, and citizenship in Africa and the U.S.

In her first book, Informal Institutions and Citizenship in Rural Africa: Risk and Reciprocity in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire (Cambridge, 2010; winner of the APSA 2011 Sartori Book Award; finalist for the ASA Herskovitz award), MacLean asks why the informal institutions of reciprocity differ so surprisingly in two similar cross-border regions of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. She argues that divergent histories of state formation not only shaped how villagers informally helped their family, friends, and neighbors, but also influenced how they defined citizenship and then chose to engage with the state on an everyday basis. This book highlights the role of informal institutions and theorizes the dynamics of informal institutional change. Related articles from this project have been published in the African Studies Quarterly, Journal of Modern African Studies, Studies in Comparative International Development, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and the International Journal of Public Administration. This study was supported by the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays DDRA, Institute for the Study of World Politics, the University of California at Berkeley’s African Studies Center, IU’s Center on Philanthropy, and IU’s Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

Expanding comparatively from the first project, MacLean is now examining the politics of the non-state provision of social welfare across sub-Saharan Africa and the Global South. In articles in World Development and Comparative Political Studies, she explores the origins and political consequences of the development of a two-tiered social service system on individual citizen behavior in Africa. With Melani Cammett (Brown University), MacLean theorizes the origins, dynamics and consequences of non-state provision in the Global South in a special issue of Studies of Comparative and International Development as well as a co-edited volume book manuscript, The Politics of Non-State Provision in the Global South (Cornell University Press, 2014; Honorable Mention Best Book Award at ARNOVA 2015). With Danielle Carter (St. Mary's College of Maryland), MacLean co-edited a special issue of Africa Today on the politics of non-state provision in Africa. The special issue was also the topic for a Monkey Cage blogpost (9/23/15).

MacLean is also investigating the participatory institutions for the representation of American Indians/Alaska Natives in health policymaking in the U.S. Originally initiated with the support of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation post-doctoral fellowship (University of Michigan, 2002-2004), MacLean has also received a IU New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities grant (funded by the Lilly Endowment) to support extensive field research. She has collected original quantitative data on the extent of consultation institutions in the 34 states with federally-recognized tribes and then conducted qualitative interviews and observed tribal consultation meetings to interpret the meaning of these consultation practices on the ground.

Most recently, MacLean is working on a new project with Jennifer Brass (IU-SPEA), Elizabeth Baldwin (University of Arizona), and Chris Gore (Ryerson University) on the politics of new renewable energy technologies, collaborative governance and citizenship in Africa. MacLean and co-authors have conducted preliminary fieldwork in Kenya (2012), Uganda (2013) and Ghana (2014). This work has been published in Africa Today, the Annual Review of Environment and Resources, the Journal of Development Studies, and the Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment

Finally, MacLean has provided service to national associations on the topic of field research methodology. She has co-authored a book, Field Research in Political Science (with Drs. Diana Kapiszewski and Ben Read, Cambridge University, 2015). MacLean has taught field research methodology regularly at the two-week Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research held at Syracuse University in June. And, she also served as co-leader for the APSA Africa Workshop 2012 in Gaborone, Botswana, focused on the theme of “Local Communities and the State in Africa”.

MacLean regularly teaches courses on African politics, comparative politics, politics of international development, politics of inequality and identity, indigenous politics, and research methods at the undergraduate and graduate level. She enjoys teaching and been recognized with the IU Trustee Teaching Award three times since joining the faculty.