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Session Overview
Session
4-HP085 - 2/2: Social Policy as Social Ordering in Development: Critical Perspectives - 2/2
Time:
Tuesday, 06/July/2021:
3:30pm - 4:45pm

Session Chair: Dr. María Gabriela Palacio Ludeña, Leiden University, Netherlands, The
Session Chair: Dr. Hayley Amanda Jones, University College London, UK, United Kingdom
Session Chair: Maria Klara Kuss, UNU-MERIT/Maastricht University, Puerto Rico (U.S.)
Session Chair: Dr. Andrew Martin Fischer, Institute of Social Studies (The Hague), Netherlands, The

Session Abstract

This panel invites contributions that explore the norms, institutional processes, social relations, and power dynamics associated with various aspects of social policy in developing countries, and the role they might play as instruments of social ordering. Of particular interest is the possibility that many policies and programmes might play a role in perpetuating processes of social inequality rather than promoting solidarity; their instrumentalisation through narrow targeting modalities; their role in governing social and political identities; and the possibility that many might maintain rather than attenuate existing power dynamics, thereby reproducing forms of discrimination, oppression, and segregation detrimental to solidarity. These possibilities are crucial to explore, given the often uncritical acceptance and promotion of social policy as a means to achieve social justice and build social solidarities in development.


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Presentations

"Great Haste Makes Waste: An Assessment Of The Extended School Day Programme In Colombia

Juan David Parra

Universidad del Norte, Colombia

The Colombian Ministry of Education (MEN) launched in 2015 a programme to extend the school day in public schools, aimed to improve the quality of primary and secondary education in the country. This article draws on the findings from a short-term assessment of Jornada Única (JU) to reflect on some of the shortcomings of neoliberal education reforms in developing countries, provided their narrow emphasis in school effectiveness (e.g. measured in test scores or dropout rates). Implementing principles and analytical tools from a realist-based evaluation framework allowed the research team to transcend typical reductionist input-output models to study education policy processes and delving into some of the causal mechanisms triggered by this policy intervention. This innovative political economy-based policy evaluation framework, applied for the first time in the Latin American context to inform a large-scale policy assessment, was particularly useful to unveil the tensions and contradictions of applied mainstream economics as a rationale backing up education policies in developing countries. Findings emerging from the triangulation of quantitative data- obtained from a representative survey to school directors- with conversations with teachers, students, parents and public servants at the national and local levels, indicate a pessimistic outlook pertaining the progress made by JU to keep up its promise of contributing to reduce education inequality gaps in Colombia. Frustrated students from poor households and the weakening of local institutional settings to accompany the pedagogical and administrative transformation of schools are situations that exemplify the potential of neoliberalism to widen education inequalities in the country.



Social Protection: Unlocking The ‘Power Of Hope’, Or Simply Shifting The Blame?

Keetie Roelen

Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom

The expansion of social protection has – at least by some – been advocated for on the basis of its positive psychosocial effects. Cash transfers and livelihoods-focused ‘graduation programmes’ have been lauded for their ability to decrease stress, instil dignity, increase self-esteem and unleash a sense of hope and purpose. These positive effects are deemed important for both intrinsic and instrumental reasons. Greater psychosocial wellbeing is an important objective and desirable outcome in and of itself. At the same time it also contributes to participants’ abilities to take positive action towards improving their lives, not least because increased income through social protection decreases poverty-induced stress and improves cognitive functioning. As such, it has almost become a stylised fact that social protection – cash transfers and ‘graduation programmes’ in particular – unlock the ‘power of hope’ in its participants. Such empowerment may help participants to overcome patterns of marginalisation and exclusion.

Although positive psychosocial effects are undoubtedly positive, an individualised and behavioural focus also holds important negative ramifications. An emphasis on the instrumental benefits of greater esteem and efficacy places the responsibility of improving one’s life squarely with the individual (or family) while failing to engage with the structural barriers that one may face. This risks a blame game that places social protection participants in the line of fire if they are unable to lift themselves out of poverty. Experiences with welfare in high-income countries such as the UK present potent examples of how individualisation of poverty feeds into demonization of those living in poverty and receiving social protection, thereby reinforcing existing patterns of inequality and exclusion.

In this paper, we take a critical perspective of the ‘power of hope’ in relation to interventions that have a strong focus on creating self-reliance, namely ‘graduation programmes’ as well as public works programmes that hold graduation out of poverty as its main objective. We explore the extent to which such programmes may instil dignity and respect among its participants vis-à-vis policy rhetoric and discourse that emphasise participants’ responsibilities in making the most of the opportunities afforded by such programmes. We do so on the basis of primary data for ‘graduation programmes’ in Burundi and Haiti and secondary data for public works programmes in Ethiopia and Rwanda, among others. In doing so, we seek to seek to gain insight into co-existence of positive and negative effects and extent to which interventions offer transformative change or reinforce patterns of marginalisation and exclusion.



Sorting The Poor: Decoding The Cash Transfers Protocol

María Gabriela Palacio Ludeña

Leiden University, Netherlands, The

Under the banner of rights-based development, it was expected that contemporary social protection policies and programmes would bring about the full enjoyment of universal rights of citizenship. Instead, these have preferred temporary and conditional claims to resources, prioritising ever-narrower targeting schemes. This shift in policymaking has informed a different disciplinary moral technology of statecraft brought about by conditional cash transfers (CCTs). The central argument of this article is that the normative foundations of CCTs, preoccupied with the technicality of targeting, prioritise moral individualism over issues of recognition and redistribution. Norms embedded in these programmes seem to be more concerned with regulating rather than protecting the poor, conditioning their social and political identities and enacting different forms of economic positioning and social membership. The article traces the normative foundations of the Ecuadorian cash transfer programme Bono de Desarrollo Humano and how they structure social and political identities. The use of ethnographic work, interviews with various generations of cash transfers beneficiary women, and documentary analysis of policies and reports provide the empirical basis for the study of the political economy and normative dimensions of narrowly targeted modalities of social protection programmes. The central argument is that the normative foundations of the BDH programme, targeted and individualised in nature, have limited prospects in terms of recognition and cross-class solidarity. Processes of social stratification and sorting are found to worsen feelings of unreservedness among beneficiary women. Targeted modalities of social protection require beneficiary mothers to provide legible proof of their condition of poverty periodically, and their behaviour is regulated by the application of rigid data protocols, exposing them to corrective measures in case of illegibility, e.g., delisting or 'graduation'. As a result, beneficiary mothers do not see themselves as claimant of rights, a consequence of processes of marginalisation sedimented in a highly unequal society, and exacerbated by the punitive and divisive eligibility protocol used to sort and select CCT beneficiaries.



Who Takes the Final Decision? Understanding the Influence of Donors on the Design of SCTs in Zambia

Maria Klara Kuss

UNU-MERIT/Maastricht University

This paper analyses the policy process of Zambia’s first National SCT scheme – the Inclusive scheme. This scheme is of particular interest because it consisted of a transformative targeting approach that aimed to reduce the intergenerational transfer of poverty. Using a constructivist view on the welfare regime approach (see Cox, 2004; Hay 2006), the paper analyses the evolution of Zambia’s National SCT scheme as the result of the structured interaction of different actors with different value-orientations. Specifically, it focuses on understanding how the SCT scheme has been negotiated and renegotiated by central decision-makers. In order to understand the influence of different powerful actors on the policy design of the scheme, the paper analyses a set of interviews with top-level key informants– including donor officials, consultants, and Ministry officials. The analysis sheds light on how different central actors with different values and interests at different times of the policy process mobilised different forms of power in order to translate their views onto the policy. Key findings evidence that while international donors were able to dominate the formal policy design during its formulation phase, the Zambian elite dominated the implementation and reformulation phase. As a result, the scheme converted from a transformative policy into a policy that reproduced the patriarchal values of Zambia’s welfare regime.



 
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