Formal Law and Informal Rules

Project: Research

Project Details


This research programme is interested in better understanding the role of customary rules and their possible persistence in the presence of modern statutory laws. In other words, why do (certain categories of) people cling to the custom even though modern rules are available to regulate behaviour and human interactions? Relatedly, how can we account for the frequently observed evolution of local customs? Among the pressures that compel these customs to adapt, we surmise that the emergence of statutory laws competing with them may play a significant role. The idea is that informal judges or mediators have an interest in keeping a constituency and are therefore induced to accept a transformation of traditional rules and practices so as to make them acceptable to a sufficient number of people. Possible domains of application concern land rights in SubSaharan Africa and women's rights in Arab countries and SubSaharan Africa.

In addition to a theoretical undertaking, the project includes first-hand collection of empirical data by CRED's members in Morocco (ongoing) and Mali (ongoing).

Persons currently involved

Jean-Philippe Platteau, Gani Aldashev, Zaki Wahhaj, Imane Chaara, Kofi Alinon (Université Mande Bukari, Bamako).
Effective start/end date1/09/06 → …


  • Informal Rules
  • Formal Law


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