This paper focuses on ideologies of welfare – i.e. the attitudes, norms and beliefs concerning the respective roles of state, market and kin in supporting the poor – in Africa, so as to supplement political economic and institutional explanations of social policy reform. Across much of Africa, political elites have exercised significant discretion in how to respond to pressures and constraints. An ideological aversion to ‘handouts’ and ‘dependency’, and anxiety about the effects of cash transfers on productivity and morality, have been both widespread and deep-rooted across much of Africa. Whilst the predominant approach has been developmental, in the primacy attached to economic development, there has also been some variation over the precise delineation of who (if anyone) constitutes the ‘deserving’ poor and what the state should (or should not) do for (or to) them. This paper draws on primary research in Anglophone Southern and East Africa – including Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia and Zanzibar (Tanzania) – to identify, explain and assess the importance of both commonality and variation in the welfare doctrines articulated by political elites.
Presenter biography: Jeremy Seekings is Professor of Political Studies and Sociology, Director of the CSSR and Interim Director of the new Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa