The Sociology of Alien Rule

  • Michael Hechter
Conference paper


Discontent with alien rule is often assumed to be pervasive, if not universal, thus accounting for the absence of an international market in governance services. There is no shortage of explanations of the antipathy to alien rule, and a great deal of corroborative evidence. Many believe that people seem to prefer to be badly ruled by their own kind than better ruled by aliens. Yet if this is true, then identity trumps competence in the assessment of rule, implying that we are all liable to suffer from suboptimal governance. In contrast, this paper argues that the evidence for the pervasiveness of antipathy to alien rule is overdrawn. To that end, it distinguishes between two different types of alien rule -- elected and imposed – provides a brief portrait of each, and suggests that when aliens are confronted with incentives to rule fairly and efficiently, they can gain legitimacy even when they have been imposed.


Effective Governance Hostile Takeover Corroborative Evidence Governance Service Native Ruler 
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  1. 1.
    Hechter, Michael. 2000. Containing Nationalism. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hechter, Michael. 2008. Alien Rule and Its Discontents. American Behavioral Scientist Forthcoming.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Paxton, Robert. 2001. Vichy France: old guard and new order 1940-1944. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Hechter
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Global StudiesArizona State UniversityTempe

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