Conflicting power paradigms in Samoa's "traditional democracy" : from tension to a process of harmonisation? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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This research argues that the tension evident between western democracy and Samoa’s traditional leadership of Fa’amatai has led to a power struggle due to the inability of the government to offer thorough civic education through dialectical exchange, proper consultation, discussion and information sharing with village council leaders and their members. It also argues that Fa’amatai are being disadvantaged as the government and the democratic system is able to manipulate cultural practices and protocols to suit their political needs, whereas village councils are not recognized or acknowledged by the democratic system (particularly the courts), despite cultural guidelines and village laws providing stability for communities and the country. In addition, it claims that, despite western academics’ arguments that Samoa’s traditional system is a barrier to a fully-fledged democracy, Samoa’s Fa’amatai in theory and practice in fact proves to be more democratic than the democratic status quo. Furthermore, this study suggests that both systems can be harmonized through the process of ‘Architectonics’, whereby the excellence of democracy depends on the excellence of Fa’amatai and vice versa. In doing so, it reveals that Samoa’s political status is that of a “traditional democracy”, a blend of democratic and Samoan traditional intricacies which need each other to ensure their relevancy, legitimacy and longevity within Samoan society. This study makes a contribution to the field of Pacific politics. In particular- it speaks to the democratization paradigm that continues to occupy the thinking of many scholars and the work of many national, regional and international agencies. The study concerns the state of Samoa’s democracy and its relevance in traditional society (and vice versa) and investigates how it could be improved - potentially resolving some of the contradictions and barriers to a democratic model that is Samoan, sustainable and equitable. Moreover, the choice of using Samoa as a case study may also perhaps inform the processes of other neighbouring Pacific countries similarly experiencing a tension between the western notion and system of democracy and that of traditional leadership within local Society
Appendices 7-11 are not publicly available.
Samoa, Politics and government, Democracy, Leadership, Social life and customs