Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This is a study of political competition in one PNG Highlands society, that of Hagen, within which some of the country's most powerful and wealthy men operate. It is about how and why people in Hagen compete for prestige, power and influence. The study examiaes the major arenas, fields and sub-fields of competition within Hagen politics. This study examines state-society relations firom a local perspective. It is a study of competing Intimacies, of conflicting identities and loyalties, and of parallel moral wodds. It is a study of political strategies, subcultures, and inteigpnerational power struggles within a weak state. The study explores the interactions between 'traditional' Hagen and modem PNG state structures, througfi a systematic analysis of the major arenas of political competition and cooperation within which individuals and their groups compete for prestige, power and influence. Political competition and leadership roles are analysed in a number of contexts, specifically by studying political action by prominent individuals, in both 'traditional' and modem spheres of competition. The 'traditional' arenas of competition and cooperation, such as ceremonial exchange, group warfare and the various types of compensation payment, now exist side by side with, and in many ways have been incorporated into, new forms such as elections and business enterprise. The study deals with questions of how and to what extent one system has captured the other, if at all, and also examines the wider implications of such developments, particulady in the context of state-society relations and competiag le^timades of political systems. It also addresses some key issues, such as the conflicting role of politicians in local conflicts and the use of state resources in promoting local interests, thereby raising questions of conflicting loyalties between state and society. In the final analysis, the state itself has been incorporated into the Hagpn political competition.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.