Accepted paper:

Performing productivity: safety nets as instrument of social differentiation in Tanzania


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.

panel M5
Understanding social protection as technologies of social ordering and reproduction within contemporary development