Who trusts? ethnicity, integration, and attitudes toward elected officials in urban Nigeria
In the developing world, politicians often use public office to redistribute resources to their core constituencies. This form of clientelistic exchange motivates ethnic voting in Africa and may also shape broader attitudes toward the state. But does clientelism retain its power as cross-ethnic contact increases, or might new forms of political linkage emerge? This article uses public opinion data from urban Nigeria to investigate how social position affects trust in elected local officials. The article finds that local ethnic minorities are less trusting of local officials, but this trust deficit does not diminish as cross-ethnic contact rises. For members of locally dominant ethnic groups, however, greater cross-ethnic contact and lessened ethnic attachment dampen expressed trust in local elected officials. The article argues that ethnic clientelism is resilient in urban contexts but that scholarship must take a more nuanced approach to assessing membership in clientelistic coalitions.