A weak state and strong microsocieties in Papua New Guinea

Nemat Bizhan, Emannuel Gorea

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter argues that Papua New Guinea (PNG) shows the difficulty of forging a national identity and creating effective state institutions where state weakness and societal fragmentation are dominant, with the archipelagic nature of the country playing a prominent role in the latter. Politics in this context shows a stable-fragile characteristic. On the one hand, despite persistent political instability, democracy has survived over the past half-century, due mainly to societal diversity and the consensual nature of decisionmaking embedded in communities. On the other hand, even though PNG is a resource-rich country, successive governments have failed to convert the economic benefits of the mineral boom into effective development outcomes, and high levels of poverty and inequality persist. Many of these characteristics reinforce each other, trapping the country, for now, in a low-level equilibrium. This chapter argues that PNG is a young country whose modern history has only just started to be written. While the country can now be characterised as stable-fragile, from a longer perspective, it is undoubtedly still in transition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationState Fragility : Case Studies and Comparisons
EditorsNematullah Bizhan State Fragility : Case Studies and Comparisons, edited by Nema
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Print)9781003297697
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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