From political to ethical settlements? Containing and sustaining corruption in Bangladesh through state-supported capital


  • Q. Alam Central Queensland University, Australia
  • J. Teicher Central Queensland University, Australia
  • J. Wolfram Cox Monash University, Australia
  • S. Rahman Monash University, Australia


This paper supplements the concept of political settlements by arguing for dedicated attention to ethical settlement as a related but distinct site for analysis in emerging economies. We present our argument in the context of Bangladesh in order to engage with existing literature and draw on fieldwork and site visits over periods that range from five to over 20 years, as well as secondary sources. In doing so we draw on three illustrative cases of government initiatives designed to improve the lives of Bangladeshi citizens and to reduce corruption that may interfere with these projects. These include the role of the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry, the government’s One House One Farm (OHOF) initiative and the introduction of rural courts. In sum, we discuss how there are ethical compromises involved in each of these cases and show how the concept of ethical settlement can inform each analysis, focusing on how patronage culture can be both contained and sustained through purportedly progressive initiatives. In contributing this concept, we extend the concept of political settlement to the ethical domain and provide a new vocabulary to inform ethical analysis of the development of emerging economies.
Keywords: Developing economies; Relativism; Social inclusion