STREAM: Addressing Inequality: New Forms of Welfare, Social Protection and Citizenship in Africa

STREAM: Addressing Inequality: New Forms of Welfare, Social Protection and Citizenship in Africa

After three decades of structural adjustment and amid widening inequality and a growing recognition that poverty-alleviation programmes have largely failed, we are currently witnessing experiments with new forms of welfare and social protection on the African continent. Cash Transfer programmes, Basic Income Grants and Universal Health Coverage are three examples of experiments in welfare that are gaining currency in the Global South, including in Africa. These moves appear to be progressive as they draw on a language of solidarity, inclusion and equity and recognize the role and responsibility of the state towards its citizens, appearing to push against ‘the death of the social’ that is so often decried in neoliberalism. However, they could also be simply ‘sticking plaster’ solutions, which lack a vision of real social transformation. Current experiments in welfare are being employed within different political ideologies and may be watered down by various political and economic interests. Finally, while recent moves in poverty alleviation have been hailed as “a development revolution from the South”, in many cases, moves towards great social protection are being pushed entirely by powerful global players which, moreover, explicitly bypass state institutions. The tensions and paradoxes surrounding these schemes make experiments with new forms of poverty alleviation across the African continent an intriguing site for research.

This stream calls for panels that address poverty-alleviation policies and projects, past and present, in African countries. The topic is interdisciplinary; contributors could include anthropologist, historians, sociologists, political scientists, media studies, artists. Possible sub-themes could include:

  • Forms of governmentality and imaginations of citizenship in poverty alleviation and social protection in African countries, past and present.
  • The role of the state, NGOs, international institutions and global players in new forms of welfare and social protection
  • How forms of welfare and social protection interplay with class and inequality.
  • Concepts and practices of obligation, care, responsibility and solidarity; local understanding of poverty
  • The role of Africa-based social movements, citizen groups, protest and activism in addressing inequality.
  • African media coverage of progressive moves towards greater welfare protection; the role of social media.
  • How formal welfare/social protection intersect with informal forms of solidarity, for example, rotating credit societies, religious organizations, and ethnic, neighborhood or work-based welfare societies, both in the past and the present.
  • How welfare and social protection programmes play out on the ground; experiences and attitudes of recipients and of those involved in implementation; friction and tensions.

Confirmed Panels:

Panel 1: Public goods and private markets

  • Paying as you go in Tanzania, Neumark, Tom (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
  • Expanding Healthcare in the Age of Austerity: Work Insecurity, Professional Ethics and the National Health Insurance System in South Africa, Hull, Elizabeth (SOAS University of London, London, United Kingdom)
  • Health Insurance and the Public Good? Kenya’s Insurance Markets and Corporate Investment in the bottom-of-the-pyramid, Prince, Ruth (University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway)

Panel 2: The role of the state, NGOs, international institutions and global players in new forms of welfare and social protection

  • Leading the Way on a Straight Road: Power Relations in the Design and Implementation of Cash Transfers, Hemsteede, Roeland (University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom)
  • The Political Economy of Social Assistance in sub-Saharan Africa: Power Relations, Ideas and Transnational Policymaking, Lavers, Tom (University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom) and Hickey, Sam (University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom)
  • Global Ideas Meet Domestic Policy Processes: the Case of Cash Transfers in Zambia Pruce, Kate (The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom)

Panel 3: Welfare, social protection, inequality and class 

Chair: Prince, Ruth (University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway)

  • Sharing Democratic Dividends: Elites Spending and Contested Economic Empowerment in Nigeria, Ololajulo, Babajid, Olusoji (University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria)
  • Health Coverage in Kenya Covers Mainly the Urban, Formally Employed Population and Demarcates a Division Between Wage-Earners with Entitlements and those without, Kroeker, Lena (Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, Bayreuth, Germany)
  • Social Protection, Class and Inequality: The Example of the Kilombero Valley in Tanzania, Rutishauser, Melina (University of Basel, Institute of Social Anthropology, Basel, Switzerland) and Obrist, Brigit (University of Basel, Institute of Social Anthropology, Basel, Switzerland)”
  • The Moral Economy of Work and (Re)Distribution: Demanding Jobs and Deserving Money in South Africa, Fouksman, Liz (Harvard University, Cambridge, United States | University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom)

Panel 4: Moral economies of claim-making: care, obligation and reciprocity

  • Structuration and Subjectivity: The Issue of Ongoing Significance of Witchcraft in Ghana, Mabefam, Matthew Gmalifo (The University of Melbourne, Ascot Vale, Australia)
  • ‘A share of my children’: Cash Transfers and Caregiving Women in the Kenya South Coast, Muinde, Jacinta Victoria Syombua (University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom)
  • “The micro-politics of social health protection: A case study Kilombero Valley, Tanzania”, Obrist, Brigit (Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland)

Panel 5: Addressing inequality: media, social movements, protest and activism

  • The Roots of Third Wave Popular Protests in Africa, Sanches, Edalina Rodrigues (Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal)
  • Whose Voice? Using Community Media to Empower Marginalized Communities in the Fight Against Poverty in Kenya, Maweu, Jacinta Mwende (University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya)

Panel 6: Social protection on the ground: experiences, attitudes, frictions and tensions 

Chair: Obrist van Eeuwijk, Brigit (Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel, Switzerland)

  • Zanzibar Universal Social Pension a Break from Order in Developing Countries, Ochieng, Omondi (HelpAge International, Nairobi, Kenya)
  • Social Cash Transfers and Changing Generational Relations in Malawi and Lesotho, Ansell, Nicola (Brunel University London, Uxbridge, United Kingdom)
  • Can Cash Transfers to Contribute to Building More Sustainable Rural Livelihoods? Investigating the Potential Developmental Role of the Child Support Grant in South Africa, Hajdu, Flora (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden) and Granlund, Stefan (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden) and Neves, David (University of the Western Cape, Belville, South Africa) and Hochfeld, Tessa (University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa) and Sandström, Emil (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden)
  • Internal Migration and Social Pensions in Uganda: The Senior Citizens Grant and its Effects on Intra-Household Dynamics and Wellbeing in ‘Multi-Local Households’, Walsham, Matthew (Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom)
  • Rethinking Access to Microfinance as a Pathway to Poverty Reduction in Cameroon: The Challenges of Intersecting Inequalities, Abonge, Christiana V (Department of Women and Gender Studies: Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon)
  • The Significance of Yoruba Iconography in Ivory in the African Diaspora, Zuberi, Tukufu (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States) and Silva Santos, Vanicléia (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil)

If you have any queries or suggestions please contact Ruth Prince ( For panel and paper submissions please follow the instructions on the website 

Share this:

Leave a Reply