Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality.

Accepted Paper:

Social Assistance and Pandemic Politics in South Africa: Rights, claims and the expansion of cash transfers  
Mikhail Moosa (Institute for Justice and Reconciliation)

Paper short abstract:

What are the political consequences of temporarily expanding cash transfers in South Africa? The state prioritises its most politically feasible programmes, but more citizens realise their rights to increased state support. Expanding social assistance has renewed claims for more universal transfers.

Paper long abstract:

The South African state expanded its already substantial social assistance programmes to mitigate the economic fallout of the pandemic. This paper argues that the expansion of social assistance reveals two aspects of the politics of social assistance in light of the pandemic: (1) which forms of social assistance are deemed to be most effective and politically feasible in a crisis, and (2) how citizens’ rights to social assistance affects claims to greater state support. This paper begins by providing a broad overview of the politics of social assistance in South Africa preceding the pandemic before addressing two pertinent questions regarding the expansion of social assistance. First, how and why did the state prioritise some social assistance programmes over others? Institutionalised cash transfer programmes were relatively easily expanded, but other transfers were unpredictable. The state relied on its most effective social assistance programmes, which acted as politically acceptable mechanisms of income redistribution. Second, how has the expansion of cash transfers affected the politics of social assistance? Prior to the pandemic, nearly one third of South Africans received a cash transfer and millions more became eligible in 2020. Despite the temporary expansion, South Africans’ legal right to social assistance has led to renewed claims for more permanent interventions, particularly an unconditional basic income grant. The economic shock of the pandemic and the government’s efforts to ameliorate poverty have revitalised the political discourse of social assistance in South Africa. The politics of social protection is therefore a dynamic and negotiated process.

Panel P27a
The politics of expanding and sustaining social protection: continuities and ruptures in unsettled times I
  Session 1 Tuesday 29 June, 2021, -