Critical perspectives on social protection and social policy reforms in developing countries
Jeremy Seekings, University of Cape Town
The panel explored the complex power relations between various actors that influence social policy ideas and praxis in developing countries. It invited critical inquiries that explore the possibility that social policies might reproduce inequalities and poverty, even whilst claiming to address them.
The panel featured eleven papers over four and a half sessions. Unfortunately, a number of scheduled presenters failed to attend. The Shindig technology was brilliant but connectivity was a problem for presenters in (for example) India (during the monsoon or Nigeria (at any time). Nonetheless, we had a series of excellent discussions.
We had three excellent presentations on Africa, by Kate Pruce (on the gendered implementation of social grants in Zambia), Liz Fouksman (on popular assessments of deservingness in South Africa) and Betty Akyeampong (on the implementation of LEAP in Ghana). Two presentations focused on Latin America: Xavier Jara and Maria Gabriella Palacio presented their analysis of the feasibility of a universal income grant in Ecuador and Beatriz Burattini examined aspects of family policy in Brazil. Presentations by Resya Kania and Thelda Pongsilurang focused on poverty reduction in Indonesia. Presentations by Ujjwal Krishna/Chris Roche and Nalini Yadav focused on India. Finally, Michael Odijie/Gbenga Shadare and Nathaniel Umukoro examined social protection in Nigeria.
The absence of some presenters meant that we had more time to discus the papers that were presented, and we used that time well. To my mind, two themes stood out. The first is the importance of examining the view from below in order to understand the implementation of social protection programmes. The second was the importance of critical reflection on the methods we used when analysing policy-making processes.