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Understanding social protection as technologies of social ordering and reproduction within contemporary development 
Convenorss:
Maria Klara Kuss (UNU-MERIT/Maastricht University)
María Gabriela Palacio Ludena (Leiden University)
Hayley Jones (LSE)
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Discussants:
Andrew Fischer (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Stream:
The politics of state policies and social protection
Format:
Papers
Location:
Library, Seminar Room 6
Sessions:
Thursday 20 June, 16:15-17:45, Friday 21 June, 9:00-10:30, 11:00-12:30 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

This panel explores the institutional processes, social and power relations associated with various social protection programmes; their roles as technologies of statecraft, social control and ordering; and the possibility that many might in fact reproduce rather than attenuate inequalities.

Long Abstract

There is a tendency within the current policy and academic scholarship on social policy to view any expansion or deepening of social protection policies and programmes as progressive advances, to the extent of framing these as revolutionary, to be guarded and promoted even at the cost of critical enquiry. In the process, a wide variety of programmes often get lumped together, from more employment centred ones to more conservative, narrowly targeted, even punitive, minimalist cash transfer programmes, with or without conditions. The fact that all of these are celebrated as progressive advances, despite their diversity in modalities and political origins, itself gives reason for a critical pause. Indeed, a small but growing critical scholarship on social policy has highlighted the institutional processes, social relations, and power dynamics associated with currently popular models of social protection programmes, and their roles as technologies of statecraft, social control and ordering. Of particular interest is the possibility that many of these policies might in fact play a role in reproducing and structuring inequalities rather than necessarily attenuating them, particularly with respect to their interaction with important sectors such as health and education, and their instrumentalisation through various targeting modalities. The practices and politics surrounding the role of evidence, or what some have referred to as 'policy-based evidence making', is also important to examine in this regard. This panel invites contributions that seek to explore and advance such lines of inquiry.

Accepted papers:

Author:

Nicolas Dvoskin (Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt)

Paper short abstract:

The 60s' and 70s' development policies for Latin America had strong utopias beneath them: full-employment, social protection and technological progress. After 30 years of neoliberalism a new era of developmentalism arose: social protection and development returned. But, were the utopias the same?

Paper long abstract:

This paper shows the conceptual and theoretical results of the author's undergoing postdoc research project, in which he analyzes the economic and social development agenda for Latin America between 1960 and 1980, but which indeed boosts many questions regarding current development agenda.

The 1960s' and 1970s' development policies for Latin America -specially, for the larger countries- were thought as welfare policies, or as the closest that Latin America can be to the European welfare states. Of course they were led by economic purposes, but there were very strong utopias beneath them. These utopias were those of the European welfare society: a full-employment society, in which workers could work forever in the same company, with social protection, public education, health insurance and an accelerated technological progress. Actually, the fact that this path could even lead to some sort of social equality was not uncommon. At the beginning, there was even a strong belief on a sort of developmentalist spill-over theory: economic growth and industrialization -constrained by a tough social order- would automatically contribute to social welfare.

After 30 years of undisputed neoliberalism -which's utopias were quite the opposite- a new era of developmentalism arose in Latin America during the first decade of the new century. Social protection, economic development and industrialization returned to the agenda. But, were the utopias the same as before? In this paper we argue that despite economic similarities, the social and political utopias were very different, and thus they would lead to different -even economic- results.

Authors:

Getu Demeke Alene (Wageningen University and Research)
Han van Dijk (Wageningen University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net Programme has become an "effective" technology of governing Somali pastoralists by being, in practice, complicit in the government's (anti-)pastoralist development policies: sedentarization, agriculture and social infrastructure expansion.

Paper long abstract:

Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) is a "transformative" food security programme, coupled with social security. It marks a shift from direct food aid to an integrated food security programme focusing on poverty reduction and livelihood enhancement by prioritizing the interests and realities of local communities. This, in a pastoralist context, means helping pastoralists to make their livelihoods resilient to climatic shocks without violating their economic and cultural rights within a mobile-based pastoralism. In this view, PSNP is distinct from Ethiopia's government broader (anti-)pastoralist development policy which is informed by conventional views of pastoralism as irrational, unviable and traditional way of life. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Ethiopia's Somali region, this paper, however, shows how PSNP has been, with counterproductive consequences, become a tool and readily available resource for translating the latter into practice in terms of sedentarization, agriculture and social infrastructure expansion. Doing so, PSNP has become an "effective" technology of extending state power to pastoralist peripheries, of (re)producing socio-political intelligibility, and of shaping the lifestyles, settlement/landscape and livelihood of pastoralists. It is argued that the case in this paper has larger implications for the challenges of implementing "transformative" social policies in the context of unreformed governments' underlying ideologies regarding (pastoral) development. While "transformative" social policies, such as PSNP, have recently got popularity and attract enormous resources, these resources might in practice be opportunities for and feed into the implementation of competing, mainstream development policies towards socio-political control of citizens.

Authors:

Jude Howell (LSE)
Regina Enjuto Martinez (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Yuanyuan Qu (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that in pursuing an agenda of enhanced welfare provision and social stability, the state seeks to shape the direction of civil society. Using technologies of state-craft it seeks to foster a service-oriented civil society and stymie rights-based and politically sensitive groups.

Paper long abstract:

In 2013 the Chinese government rolled out a nationwide programme of procurement of welfare services to NGOs. This required modifying the constrictive regulatory framework governing civil society organisations to make it easier for NGOs to register. We argue that in encouraging NGOs to apply for procurement contracts for the provision of particular services, the government sought to shape the development of civil society in China. In particular it sought to foster a service-oriented civil society that served the instrumental purposes of the state. These purposes were twofold: first, to increase welfare services provision by expanding the service provider base; second, to ensure social stability by meeting welfare needs and controlling the direction of civil society. The key dilemma facing government was how to foster service-oriented NGOs whilst keeping at bay rights-oriented and politically sensitive groups.

These policy moves can be understood as technologies of statecraft linked to a broader agenda of social stability and welfare provision. The paper focuses on key technologies of power, namely: first, changes in the regulatory environment to encourage and simultaneously discourage certain types of social organisations; second, political policies to strengthen Party control over social organisations; and third, lists of services that government stipulates for contracting to NGOs that then shape and order the construction of needs.

The paper draws upon ongoing research funded by the ESRC on the politics of contracting welfare services provision to NGOs in three sectors, namely, migrants, people living with HIV/AIDs and people living with disabilities.

Author:

Rana Jawad (University of Bath)

Paper short abstract:

The paper advocates for a new generation of social protection research that critically analyses social policy-making processes in the Global South. It proposes and analyses three orders of discourse: social risk management, social justice/social contracts; institutionalisation of social protection.

Paper long abstract:

This paper advocates for a new generation of social protection (SP) research that takes seriously the analysis of social policy-making processes in the Global South. It combines theoretical insights from social policy and critical policy analysis to highlight the importance of policy framing in shaping development and social welfare outcomes. This approach is important because of the endurance of SP as a global policy orientation at a time when its operationalisation in policy terms appears to be narrower than its professed goals. The paper categorises SP according to three orders of discourse: social risk management, social justice/social contracts, ("ex ante") institutionalisation of social protection (specifically social assistance), in order to address areas of 'discourse closure' in the conceptualisation of SP. On the basis of this categorisation, the paper proposes a framework for analysing SP that highlights the importance of three elements to aid SP policy operationalisation: (1) state-civil society relations in the provision of services; (2) the ethical and not only legal parameters of SP; (3) the enhancement of social cohesion as a final SP outcome. These elements support a process-oriented analysis of SP that can better ascertain its long-term impact on social policy agendas in the Global South.

Author:

Maria Kristina Alinsunurin (University of the Philippines)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how the concept of governmentality works in conditional cash transfer programs, as experienced in the Philippines; its impact on shaping the choices of women beneficiaries, and the gendered outcomes within the household and the community.

Paper long abstract:

Conditional cash transfers (CCT) have provided opportunities for improvement to those who have been sidelined especially on state protection (Tabbush, 2010). CCT seeks to address its objectives through a social contract between the household and the state: families, represented by the mothers, are co-responsible to meet education and health conditions.

However, on a critical perspective, conditions are anchored on the concept of governmentality, which pertains to barely visible processes of the state governing towards prosperity, but also as a form of exercising power to configure habits and beliefs of the population (Foucault, 1982). This research argues that conditions may have done less to change the overall development process, especially for the women. CCTs continue to rely on normative gender assumptions to devolve responsibilities to women. More so, non-compliance to program conditions produces another scenario of exclusion, which will lead to the worsening of the well-being of these women and their family.

This research investigates gendered outcomes of cash transfer programs anchored on perspectives of program processes of shaping household choices towards intended development outcomes. Using the standpoint theory as a methodological approach, the research situates itself on the experience of women participating in CCTs, and mechanisms of control which may have continued to marginalize them.

Initial field results show the duality of life among the women beneficiaries: on the public sphere living on the concept of responsible motherhood, as set by the state; but in their realm, voicing their need for autonomy in the household and the community.

Authors:

Nicola Ansell (Brunel University London)
Lorraine van Blerk (University of Dundee)
Roeland Hemsteede (University of Dundee)
Evance Mwathunga (Chancellor College, University of Malawi)
Thandie Hlabana (National University of Lesotho)

Paper short abstract:

Based on qualitative research over a 3-year period, we explore how three cash transfer schemes - Lesotho's Old Age Pension and Child Grants Programme and Malawi's Social Cash Transfer Programme - are transforming social relations in rural communities.

Paper long abstract:

Unconditional social cash transfer programmes have been implemented in many African countries over the past two decades. We explore the effects of three such schemes - Lesotho's Old Age Pension and Child Grants Programme and Malawi's Social Cash Transfer Programme - on social relations in rural communities. These three schemes have distinct differences in targeting and transfer levels. Based on in depth qualitative research in two rural communities over a three-year period, we identify how the different schemes contribute in contrasting ways to shifting relations of age, gender and generation within families and across communities.

Author:

Hayley Jones (LSE)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the transformative potential of CCTs to address intergenerational poverty. It highlights the tension between policy narratives, the expectations and aspirations that these narratives engender among young beneficiaries, and the realities of the opportunities available to them.

Paper long abstract:

CCTs have been adopted across Latin America as key components of many countries' poverty reduction strategies. While there is an extensive literature on their short-term impacts, very little is known of the long-term impacts. Drawing on empirical evidence collected through qualitative research in the Northeast of Brazil, this paper traces some key dimensions of intergenerational change and continuity for young beneficiaries and their families in Brazil's Bolsa Família programme (BFP). It argues that the BFP has played a key role in changing experiences of poverty across generations in terms of shifts in access to social services and the ability to meet basic needs; there is, however, a great deal of continuity in beneficiaries' experiences of marginalisation and lack of opportunity, particularly in employment. Despite this, the CCT model for poverty reduction and the associated international discourses linking schooling and poverty reduction appear to have contributed to, on the one hand, raising aspirations and expectations of social mobility among young beneficiaries and their families, and on the other, perpetuating an individualised conceptualisation of poverty that in turn reinforces the notion that those who fail to rise out of poverty are themselves entirely to blame. This poses two critical challenges for CCTs: not only do CCTs not appear to be facilitating the type of intergenerational change for poverty reduction that they aim to, but they face a key ethical dilemma in perpetuating a narrative around pathways out of poverty that raises aspirations of social mobility without providing the means to achieve these.

Author:

María Gabriela Palacio Ludena (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper provides a politically-informed analysis of the conditional cash transfer model, problematising its impact on social and power relations. It focuses on the normative foundations of the Bono de Desarrollo Humano programme and how these inform the politics of entitlement and claim-making.

Paper long abstract:

Despite a rhetoric of inclusion, the recognition and expansion of social rights has remained for the most part unaddressed by conditional cash transfers. This paper focuses on the most important cash transfer programme in Ecuador, Bono de Desarrollo Humano (BDH). The granular configuration of the BDH, transitory and targeted at households, makes it difficult to assemble a collective experience of social protection, arguably obscuring recipients' fragile and intermittent social rights. This paper offers a politically-informed analysis of the politics of entitlement and claim-making accompanying the BDH, where the position of recipients vis-a-vis the state appears constrained by notions of self-reliance and individualism informing cash transfers. It focuses on the norms that dictate targeted social protection and how these enact different forms of social membership and recognition of distributive claims e.g. salaried workers vs 'poor' mothers. Documentary analysis and fieldwork data evince how the transitory and targeted configuration of the BDH next to the emphasis on 'graduation' (or rather, exogenous exit) has hindered the claim making process, in a policy context where poverty is approached as a technical, and therefore non-political, problem. In such context, targeting has turned into a demobilising mechanism as social protection is individualised and not rights-based. Furthermore, the segregation of the population into those deserving and undeserving of entitlements and the technical lingo used in the selection of recipients, contribute to the depoliticisation of poverty, discouraging recipients from engaging in critical politics to gain visibility and recognition of their rights.

Author:

Maria Klara Kuss (UNU-MERIT/Maastricht University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores social protection as socially transformative instrument in rural Africa. Analysing the views of local and intermediary powerholders in Zambia, it asks how Zambia's first National SCT scheme sits with the local understanding of poverty and social justice.

Paper long abstract:

This paper illustrates the political settlement process by analysing how Zambia's first National SCT scheme evolves through the interactions of local and intermediary actors in rural Zambia. It thus uses a bottom-up approach to policy analysis and assumes that polices are shaped and reshaped through the structured negotiations between actors at the bottom of the political settlement (see Puelzl and Treib, 2007; Lipsky, 1971, 1980; Grindle and Thomas, 1991). The paper builds on the analysis of about 40 interviews with power holders and implementers at the local and intermediary level of policy implementation in Zambia as well as a purposeful analysis of secondary literature.

The findings suggest that local actors largely did not understand the transformative intention of the Inclusive scheme. Instead, they interpreted and adapted the content and purpose of the scheme in line with their local believes about poverty and deservingness. These findings thus indicate a large gap between the policy intention from above and the local understanding of the policy. Intermediary powerholders also appeared not empowered enough to thoughtfully understand the competing policy ideas of the Inclusive scheme and were therefore not able to translate them 'correctly' into locally meaningful terms. The process of policy interpretation and adaptation by local and intermediary actors thus shows the reiteration of the traditional values of the local welfare regime - not their transformation.

Author:

Elizaveta Fouksman (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks to southern Africa to unravel the work-centered politics of social protection. It analyzes the radical political possibilities of framing cash transfers as rightful shares of national assets or post-colonial reparations rather than as efficient poverty alleviation policies.

Paper long abstract:

Southern Africa has been lauded as the site of a 'new politics of distribution' (Ferguson 2015) centered around cash transfers. South Africa and Namibia in particular are not only the site of extensive social grant programs and pioneering guaranteed income experiments, but also of past political debates around universal basic income guarantees (UBI). Yet both countries ultimately chose to reject UBI in favor of social protection policies that explicitly exclude anyone who is physically able to work. This paper traces these politics of universal social protection policies in southern Africa. It explores both why the idea of universal basic income initially took hold in South Africa and Namibia and why it ultimately failed to be translated into policy. I argue that three ideological factors played key roles in the politics of social protection in the region: cost, productivism and political framing. I look at the ways in which spurious estimates of the cost of the policy have been successfully deployed as a tool to justify a rejection that is in fact predicated on a productivist insistence that jobs - not grants - are ideologically and morally the right focus of social and economic public policy. I make the case that part of what made this rejection possible is a failure of UBI campaigns to frame the policy proposals in terms of wealth and racial inequality, post-colonial reparations, and rightful shares of natural resource wealth - pointing to possibilities for resurrecting a truly durable new politics of distribution through cash transfers.

Author:

Maia Green (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

Tanzania's productive saftey nets prorgamme seeks to change the behaviour of poor housholds. This paper explores how performance is central to prorgamme implementation as beneficaries demonstrate alignment with economic practices foundational to current development theories of change.

Paper long abstract:

Tanzania's Productive Social Safety Net programme gives small bi monthly stipends to poor households. Such programmes have proved popular with governments and donors seeking to claim cross sectoral impacts. Giving poor households money has also been useful in making beneficiaries responsible for getting out of poverty. Social cash transfer programmes in Latin America and Africa therefore comprise a complex architecture of implementation, evaluation and ideological transfer which situates recipients within the vertical political economy of international national and international development and its theorisations of transformation. Beneficiaries of such development programmes are expected to demonstrate increased responsibility and productivity which will enable them to graduate from poverty. Implementation of productive safety net type programmes therefore features performances of public compliance as well as willingness to improve ones' situation. This paper examines the performative dimensions of Tanzania's productive social safety net programme as delineating core boundaries between beneficiaries and other villagers and between state and citizens. It shows how programme implementation operate through successive performances which enact development agency and state ideas about how individuals could achieve development - through learning, saving and micro enterprise. These trajectories are constrained in practice by wider structural and social factors which the programme does not address . This is intentional. Productive safety net programmes are political instruments of policy in which the social is strictly limited. In Tanzania, performative dimensions of productivity and responsibility and the delineation of households deserving short term assistance are the defining features of this intervention.