Social mobility among Christian Africans: evidence from Anglican marriage registers in Uganda, 1895-2011

Meier Zu Selhausen, Felix, Van Leeuwen, Marco H D and Weisdorf, Jacob L (2018) Social mobility among Christian Africans: evidence from Anglican marriage registers in Uganda, 1895-2011. Economic History Review, 71 (4). pp. 1291-1321. ISSN 0013-0117

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Abstract

This article uses Anglican marriage registers from colonial and post-colonial Uganda to investigate long-term trends and determinants of intergenerational social mobility and colonial elite formation among Christian African men. It shows that the colonial era opened up new labour opportunities for these African converts, enabling them to take large steps up the social ladder regardless of their social origin. Contrary to the widespread belief that British indirect rule perpetuated the power of African political elites (chiefs), this article shows that a remarkably fluid colonial labour economy actually undermined their social advantages. Sons of chiefs gradually lost their high social-status monopoly to a new, commercially orientated, and well-educated class of Anglican Ugandans, who mostly came from non-elite and sometimes even lower-class backgrounds. The study also documents that the colonial administration and the Anglican mission functioned as key steps on the ladder to upward mobility. Mission education helped provide the skills and social reference needed to climb the ladder in exchange for compliance with the laws of the Anglican Church. These social mobility patterns persisted throughout the post-colonial era, despite rising levels of informal labour during Idi Amin’s dictatorship.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Economics
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D880 Developing Countries
D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa
D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT0365 Eastern Africa > DT0421 East Africa. British East Africa
D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT0365 Eastern Africa > DT0433.2 Uganda
H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0831 Social change
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform > HN30 The church and social problems
Depositing User: Felix Meier Zu Selhausen
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2017 15:47
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2018 16:03
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/71634

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