Security and Justice in a Failed State Context : The Effects of State Failure on Human Attitudes toward Formal Institutions concerned with Justice and Security in Kunduz, Afghanistan

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This study centres on primary data that was collected for the baseline study of the Netherlands Integrated Police training Mission (NL-IPM) in Kunduz. The focus of this study is on how human attitudes toward formal institutions concerned with justice and security in peripheral Afghanistan are affected by state failure. It will be argued that three interacting and mutually reinforcing factors underlie the “failure” of the Afghan state. The first factor would concern the contested or de-monopolized provision of law and order. The second factor would concern the flawed or weak structural features of the institutions concerned with law and order. And the third factor would concern the historical opposition to formal, centralized institutions that is proclaimed to exist in rural or peripheral parts of the country. This study aims to investigate how these factors are perceived by rural or peripheral populations, or how they in turn affect the popular perception of formal institutional functioning. Of central importance to formulating an answer to the research question underlying this thesis, is the theoretical concept of “subjective rationality”. This theoretical concept centres on the premises that even though human agents are rational in their decisions, their assessment of reality and its options are coloured by socially constituted “knowledge” and through the reflection or feedback on one’s own and other’s “experiences”. These factors are what distort a human agent’s rational assessment of institutional options. In effect, this study seeks to create a better understanding of human agency within Afghanistan’s justice and security system(s), by reflecting on 1) what are popularly considered socially and culturally preferable (inter)actions; and 2) what are the popularly proclaimed most effective institutional options. This study will in fact argue there exists a large diversity among popular assessments of formal state functioning. Although a relatively large segment of the population has proclaimed there were institutional flaws and weaknesses present within the formal system, it will be argued that on an overall level the majority view of the population was one that actually considered the state as being relatively capable, accessible, effective and efficient in terms of providing justice and security. In addition, it will be argued that no such thing exists as an overall (dominant) popular assessment of the formal justice and security system as being weak or failed – so even though there might be a popular opposition to state institutions, human agents turn out to be very pragmatic when they are in need of justice and security. In fact, the data results will show significantly large levels of popular preference for and popular confidence in civil institutions concerned with justice and security.
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