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 (2017) Social Mobility among Christian Africans: Evidence from Anglican Marriage Registers in Uganda, 1895-2011. Working Paper. African Economic History Network.

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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. We show that the colonial era opened up new labour opportunities for our 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), we show 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. We also document 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 it in exchange for compliance with the laws of the Anglican Church. These social mobility patterns persisted throughout the post-colonial era despite rising informal labour during Idi Amin’s dictatorship.

Item Type: Reports and working papers (Working Paper)
Additional Information: ISBN 9789198147797
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Business and Management
Depositing User: Felix Meier Zu Selhausen
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2017 08:52
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2019 13:02

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