Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-24-2015


Utah. C (2015). Beyond corruption: Assessing the organizational potential in alternative discourses of struggle in Nigeria. PhD diss., University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Department of Communication Studies at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Communication Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Kathleen Krone. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Chigozirim Ifedapo Utah


Despite decades of initiatives and emphasis on combatting corruption in Nigeria, systemic social change has remained elusive. I argue that the discourse of corruption itself should be called into question, specifically how it constrains possibilities for positive identity construction and social change organizing. This dissertation endeavors to disrupt the dominant discourse of corruption by uncovering alternative discourses of socioeconomic struggle that emerge from lived experience. I turned to the rich organizational landscape of Nigeria’s informal economy, performing a critical communicational phenomenology of the work lives of urban roadside food traders in Lagos who embody socio-economic struggle. The ultimate goal was to discover organizational potential for social change in the lived experience of socioeconomic struggle.

I interviewed 19 roadside food traders in the Ajah-Lekki area of the city focusing on their lived experience and negotiations of socioeconomic struggle. In line with phenomenological inquiry, my overarching question was, “What is it like to be a Lagos roadside food trader?” I characterize the lives of the traders as an experience of “bounded entrepreneurship”, comprised of five essential and intertwined layers of struggle:1) varying degrees of struggle for space, 2) struggle within and with place, 3) relational struggle 4) negotiating a lack of resources, and 5) emphasis on the divine as a resource. I conclude by discussing the organizational potential present in the traders’ bounded entrepreneurship.

Adviser: Kathleen Krone