Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Power and patronage in Pakistan.

Lyon, Stephen M. (2002) Power and patronage in Pakistan. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94495) (KAR id:94495)


Asymmetrical power relationships are found throughout Pakistan’s Punjabi and Pukhtun communities. This thesis argues that these relationships must be examined as manifestations of cultural continuity rather than as separate structures. The various cultures of Pakistan display certain common cultural features which suggest a re-examination of past analytical divisions of tribe and peasant societies. This thesis looks at the ways power is expressed, accumulated and maintained in three social contexts: kinship, caste and political relationships. These three social contexts are embedded within a collection of ‘hybridising’ cultures (i.e. cultures which exhibit strong mechanisms for cultural accommodation without loss of ‘identity’). Socialisation within kin groups provides the building blocks for Pakistani asymmetrical relationships, which may usefully be understood as a form of patronage. As these social building blocks are transferred to non-kin contexts the patron/client aspects are more easily identified and studied; however, this thesis argues that the core relationship roles exist even in close kinship contexts. The emphasis on asymmetry in personal relationships leads to rivalries between individuals who do not agree with each other’s claims to equality or superiority. There are mechanisms for defusing the tension and conflict when such disagreements arise. State politics and religion are examined for the ways in which these patron/client roles are enacted on much larger scales but remain embedded within, and must respect, the cultural values underpinning those roles.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94495
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Punjabi; Pukhtun; Relationships
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GR Folklore
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2023 09:34 UTC
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2023 09:34 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.