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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Mwangi wa Gĩthĩnji

Second Advisor

Vamsi Vakulabharanam

Third Advisor

Johan Mathew

Subject Categories

Economic History | Growth and Development | Political Economy


In three essays, this dissertation explores the relationship between the social and the economic, with an eye to how social and institutional formations affect economic outcomes. In the first essay, I construct a theoretical base by developing the metaphor of ‘ecosystem’ as a frame for thinking of the various interrelations between social processes and economic phenomena – the socio-institutional ecosystem analysis. In invoking ecosystem as a central metaphor, this dissertation calls into focus the interaction between the economic and the non-economic, recognizing the multiplicity of causal inter- and intra-relationships between the two. I deploy this analysis in two substantive case studies. The second essay explores labor regimes in colonial East Africa, examining how the British authorities who sought to occasion a paid labor agricultural force faced different possibilities and constraints in Kenya (a Crown Colony) and Tanganyika (a League of Nations Mandate Territory). It explores how the more repressive Kenyan regime led to increased proletarianization through the Great Depression, while Tanganyika saw an increase in peasantization, and how these developments affected the long-term historical trajectories of both countries. The third essay examines the appearance and distribution of worker cooperatives in the United States as a function of their proximate socio-institutional environments, and finds that political ideology of the surrounding area correlates heavily with the presence of worker cooperatives, and explores what this means for policy and for economic theory of worker cooperatives.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License