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States, Citizens and Social Protection in Africa 
Sophie Plagerson (Sophie Plagerson)
Jeremy Seekings (University of Cape Town)
Marianne Ulriksen (Danish Centre for Welfare Studies)
Alesha Porisky (Northern Illinois University)
Politics and political economy
Thursday 7 July, 11:00-11:40 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

This panel invites papers that critically examine how state-citizen dynamics influence the trajectories of social protection in Africa, and how in turn social protection shapes the relationship between states and citizens.

Long Abstract

The expansion of social welfare has been integral to historical processes of state-building, and is key to securing just and sustainable wellbeing outcomes for vulnerable populations. However, as social protection is being extended in contexts of weak infrastructural capacity across both democratic and authoritarian states, it is important to develop an evidence base which explores changing relations between states and citizens, and shifting conceptions of citizenship.

Across Africa, over the past twenty years, the landscape of social protection has evolved rapidly, including more recently in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the widespread introduction of non-contributory pensions, public works programmes, social cash transfers, and social insurance for previously excluded populations, extending social assistance to vulnerable populations.

In order to understand and disentangle the effects of how social protection is recasting the political, administrative, and social aspects of changing citizen-state relations in Africa, this panel invites papers which present evidence on the perspectives of stakeholders (including political elites, state administration, street-level bureaucrats, development agencies, beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of social protection) that can shed light on how the design, reach, and implementation social protection policies are shaped by citizen-state relations and how, in turn, their implementation shapes citizen-state relations in profound and sometimes unexpected ways. The panel discussion will offer a comparative angle of beneficiary perspectives across a broad range of countries, with different levels of state capacity, in rural and urban settings.

Accepted papers: