Researching the politics of development



Co-producing ineffective states: social knowledge, social policy and social citizenship in Africa and in development

Working paper 14

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Maia Green


This paper explores the links between social knowledge, social policy and state forms in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its central argument is that the capacities of states to establish inclusive welfare regimes (Gough et al 2004) for citizens are limited by the ways in which states themselves are organised, including the constitution of state society relations (see also Neocosmos 2003). Moreover, the capacity constraints of African states in relation to citizen welfare are accentuated rather than mitigated by the range of policy interventions promoted by development actors. Academic and policy knowledge about states and society in Africa, as elsewhere, provides the rationale for certain kinds of interventions which have implications for the organisation of states and regimes of citizenship (Skopkol & Rueschemeyer 1996; Stavrakis 2002). Consequently, the new generation of social protection programmes currently being implemented in countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania are not only inadequate in the context of the increasing mobility of capital and labour, accelerated by regionalisation policies and the privatization of land; they perpetuate what Mahmood Mamdani has characterised as the `bifurcated state’ (1996) based on a dual system of social entitlements.