The Paradox of Patronage Politics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


This chapter examines a paradox at the heart of British Pakistani politics. On the one hand, the use of biraderi (kinship networks) within the political process has excluded specific subsections of British Pakistanis, namely, women and young people, whilst benefitting others, particularly older males. On the other hand, a consequence of biraderi electoral mobilisations, has been the relative success of British Pakistani politicians in attaining local and national level positions in office. This, in turn, has been symbolically significant for many young British Pakistanis, including women, raising aspirations and inspiring a belief amongst a new generation of British Pakistanis, that they too, can ‘make it’in politics. In this way, biraderi practices have, indirectly, contributed to the political aspirations and successes of the very subsections of individuals they had traditionally excluded. The descriptive representation of British Pakistanis in the political institutions, has then, been significant for a generation of potential political candidates. The chapter starts by examining the debates around minority political representation as a normative ideal and in practice. This is followed by a section detailing the concept of biraderi (broadly defined as kinship networks) and biraderi-politicking (a patronage style relationship between politicians and some parts of the British Pakistani community). It is argued that in the period after large scale Pakistani migration to the UK in the 1960s, a corporatist relationship of mutual benefit developed between some Pakistani community leaders and local politicians, so that bloc community votes were exchanged for political patronage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMuslims and Political Participation in Britain
EditorsTimothy Peace
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


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