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Cambridge University Press
Insecurity and Welfare Regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America: Social Policy in Development Contexts

Insecurity and Welfare Regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America: Social Policy in Development Contexts

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Written by a team of internationally respected experts, this book explores the conditions under which social policy--defined as the public pursuit of secure welfare--operates in the poorer regions of the world. Making an important contribution by breaking away from the traditional focus on Europe and North America, it develops a new conceptual framework for understanding different types of welfare regimes in a range of countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521087995
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 12/11/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Ian Gough is Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bath and Editor of the Journal of European Social Policy.

Professor Geof Wood is Head of the Department of Economics and International Development and Director of the Institute for International Policy Analysis at the University of Bath.

Armando Barrientos is Lecturer in Public Economics and Development at the Institute for Development and Management at the University of Manchester.

Philippa Bevan is a Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology of Development at the University of Bath.

Peter Davis is Lecturer in International Development at the University of Bath.

Graham Room is Professor of European Social Policy at the University of Bath.

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Insecurity and Welfare Regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America
Cambridge University Press
0521834198 - Insecurity and Welfare Regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America - Social Policy in Development Contexts - by Ian Gough and Geof Wood


Ian Gough and Goof Wood

The improvement of human welfare is now an explicit goal of international development discourse and policy. The Millennium Development Goals commit the UN and other international agencies to: reduce the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by half between 1990 and 2015; to enrol all children in primary school by 2015; to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005; to reduce infant and child mortality rates by two-thirds and maternal mortality rates by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015; and to provide access for all who need reproductive health services by 2015. These are bold targets, and represent a fundamental shift in global discourse.

The reality is more prosaic and, in many zones of the world, tragic. Few of these targets are on track to be met at the present time. Global inequality has mushroomed to 'grotesque levels' according to the UNDP (2002), thereby increasing the threats to everyone's welfare, even the more wealthy. In parts of Africa especially, HIV/AIDS, famine and war generate intolerable levels of human suffering. In more successful parts of the developing world, rapid capitalist development, which has contributed to the erosion of absolute poverty, has simultaneously heightened insecurity and vulnerability. New risks, threats and uncertainty challenge subjective and objective well-being. This is not to claim that managed development and growth cannot improve human welfare - they clearly can and have done so in much of East Asia, for example - but it is to recognise the new hazards of insecurity and new challenges to well-being, alongside pre-existing ones, in what is essentially still an unregulated international politico-economic system.

Faced with these challenges, the role of social policy is being rediscovered and reappraised in international development discourse. Of course, its relevance to human welfare is hardly news to civil society movements, NGOs, and hard-pressed governmental social sector agencies across the South, let alone to the peoples of these regions. Nevertheless it does represent a sea change in the agenda of powerful international agencies from the fundamentalist neo-liberal decades of structural adjustment and the externally imposed destruction of national social programmes. For example, the recognition of social protection, both as a right and a contributor to development, by the World Bank (2001a) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID 2000) is to be welcomed.

One aspect of this has been a renewed interest in some of the debates and lessons of social policy in the West. What lessons - positive and negative - can be learned from the long experience with national social policy in these richer countries? Can the erstwhile parallel but separate tracks of development studies and social policy studies be integrated in useful ways? How can appropriate social programmes be devised, institutionalised, legitimated and financed within developing countries? What is the role of international agencies in this process? Does social policy need to shift upwards from the national to the global level, as a form of global social policy? Or does it rather need to shift downwards to empower social movements within civil society, as a form of social development? In framing these questions, any comparative analysis has to be sensitive to the history of difference between the two sets of countries as determined by the era of colonial relations and the corresponding variance in the formation and purpose of public institutions. Even in some areas not formally colonised, the combined and unequal organisation of the global political economy has reproduced very different sets of conditions and expectations, with reference to security on the one hand and the respective responsibilities of the state and non-state institutions on the other.

The experience of poorer countries in the South, and now among transitional countries, reminds us of the centrality of personal and family-level security as key to a sense of well-being and as a universal human need.1 Outside the West this is more starkly observed as a fundamental driver of human survival behaviour both individually and collectively. It is more starkly observed precisely because the formal institutional frameworks for the provision of security are so precarious and fragile. The legitimacy and governance of public institutions are too contested and personalised to guarantee long-term rights to those groups in greatest need. As a result, people have to engage in wider strategies of security provision, risk avoidance and uncertainty management. In Gough's language, the need satisfiers are necessarily much more diverse, and certainly not derived only from the state. This is where the knowledge derived from poverty-focused studies in poor countries questions the institutional assumptions of Western social policy.

These are some of the questions which prompted the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to fund a two-year plus programme at the University of Bath, entitled 'Social Policy in Development Contexts'. Our particular contribution was to bring together specialists in development studies and social policy to collaborate over an extended period of time. Ian Gough and Graham Room have social policy backgrounds (combining social philosophy and macro-level argument), while Geof Wood, Pip Bevan and Peter Davis come from sociological and anthropological traditions within development studies, with extensive direct fieldwork experience in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.2 This book is one outcome of that collaboration, entailing a critical interrogation of the premises of Western social policy when applied to the different conditions of poor‐country political economies. The team at Bath has also been very pleased to associate with Armando Barrientos, now at the Institute for Development Policy Management at Manchester University, who has engaged with our theorising as the backdrop to his regional chapter on Latin America.

Social policy, as an applied field of study drawing on several social science disciplines, has its roots, like so much other social science, in the Western political philosophy of rich industrial and post-industrial countries. It has fundamentally addressed the problem of ensuring security of welfare under the uncertain life-chance conditions of capitalist, market-based societies. In these richer societies, it has been able to rely upon two key assumptions: on the one hand a legitimated state, and on the other a pervasive labour market, as the basis for many people's livelihoods. Another unspoken assumption has been the existence of sophisticated, comprehensive and regulated financial markets providing insurance and enabling savings. In a nutshell it assumes capitalism and a relatively autonomous state. As a result, both the ontological construction of social policy, and the intellectual discipline of social policy studies as a critique of inadequate and ineffective provision for the poor and insecure, focus heavily upon the role of the state in three dimensions: first, the state as an outcome of formal political settlements about government rights to tax and redistribute; second, the state as a regulator of the formal labour market in terms of workers' rights to various forms of social insurance; and, third, the state as a guarantor and direct provider of essential benefits and services to deliver security at socially acceptable minimal standards of living. In this sense, Western social policy has been associated with particular sets of means (the state) towards the ends of ensuring security of welfare.

These essential principles of Western social policy are encapsulated in Polanyi's 'great transformation', where economic modernisation and the development of liberal capitalism is characterised as the disembedding of the economy from social relations and the consequent realisation of 'self-regulating markets'. But, as Polanyi argued, this principle of the market cannot easily be extended to 'fictitious' commodities like labour, land and money. He argued that capitalism in early nineteenth-century Britain extended insecurity through a process of disembedding the economy from society and the commodification of labour. During the rest of the century 'society' protected itself by re-embedding social relations, mainly via state social intervention. Thus 'the labour market was allowed to retain its main function only on condition that wages and conditions of work, standards and regulations should be such as would safeguard the human character of the alleged commodity, labour' (Polanyi 1944: 177).

These arguments have been strongly developed in Esping-Andersen's notion of a welfare regime (1990; 1999). The concept of a welfare regime contains three elements, not entirely congruent. First, it applies to capitalist societies that have been transformed into welfare states, i.e. not countries that happen to engage in a bit of social policy on the side, but societies so deeply affected by their non-residual, pervasive social policies that they are best defined as welfare states. Second, it denotes a degree of de-commodification through state action - a measure of protection against total dependence on market forces. The OECD countries vary greatly here. Third, the concept denotes the ways in which states, markets and households interact in the provision of welfare to produce and reproduce stratification outcomes. In this way social policies shape political divisions and alliances and, usually, reproduce them through time. On the basis of the second and third dimensions, Esping-Andersen distinguishes three welfare regimes in the OECD world: liberal, conservative and social democratic. The liberal regime reproduces through a dualist politics entailing a strict definition of narrowly targeted residual need; the conservative regime through a strong ideology of family‐level responsibility via support for key earners/providers; and the social democratic regime through a universalistic politics. In effect, each regime adopts a different approach to authoritative labelling, reflecting ideological variation in basic political settlements (Wood 1985).

The Bath research programme took this 'welfare regime' paradigm as an heuristic entry point into a debate about social policy in the developing and poor world. Our project was never to apply the welfare regime idea to developing countries tout court - that would have made a mockery of the very idea, premised as it is on advanced capitalist societies with relatively autonomous states. Rather, it was about taking that conceptual apparatus and seeing what institutional categories it generated when considering public/private combinations of support for poor people's livelihoods in non-rich countries. This process has resulted in a distinctive approach to regime research, in which Esping-Andersen's OECD model of welfare state regime is precisely distinguished from a more generalised conception of welfare regime, which embraces the performance of non-state as well as state institutions in the reproduction of security and insecurity. In this way, we offer a framework for comparative analysis, which enables different regions of the world to be broadly classified into different families of regime: welfare state regimes; informal security regimes; and insecurity regimes. The reality is more complicated than such a classification, in the sense that regions or countries within them can combine elements of all three 'families' within a single social formation. Thus different categories of a country's population can experience different primary regimes: some successfully incorporated into state protection; others reliant upon community and family arrangements; and others more excluded from formal or informal mainstream arrangements and reliant upon highly personalised politico-militia patrons, in which a sense of 'in/security' is prevalent. But within that complexity, we are certainly clustering different countries of the world into a primary association with one of these ideal types.3

Thus we retain the idea of regime to refer to repeated systemic arrangements through which people seek livelihood security both for their own lives and for those of their children and descendants. Substantively, the notion of a welfare regime embodies the relationship between sets of rights on the one hand and the performance of correlative duties on the other. In Esping-Andersen's approach, notwithstanding his famous delineation of three worlds of welfare capitalism, the state is privileged as the key institutional actor, with the market and family as dependent co-actors. To address this, we transform the triangle into a square by adding a 'community' domain to the other three, and then add a global dimension, recognising that poorer countries have a greater over-reliance in all four domains upon international actors and transfers.

Three further points need to be made in explaining the significance of this theoretical innovation. First, we are explicitly moving on from a legal discourse about rights and entitlements which sees them only existing in a statutory sense with formal sanctions to ensure the fulfilment of correlative duties. Rather we are adding the possibility that for poor people in poor countries, meaningful rights and correlative duties may be found through informal community arrangements. Thus we offer a more sociological rather than only a legal discourse about rights. And we also recognise that rights and correlative duties in all four domains may also become completely degraded and break down. This, alas, is the institutional reality for many of the poorest parts of the world, whether in sub-Saharan Africa or Afghanistan or the West Bank and Gaza. Second, the notion of 'community' has to be deconstructed with subtlety. It is not just a reference to small-scale, homogeneous reciprocity. Rather it represents a wider range of institutional practices between the state and the household involving hierarchy as well as reciprocity: thus inequality and power. It also represents a continuum from immediately local and ascriptive relations (kinship groups, clans, villages and so on) to wider and purposive ones (civil society organisations, including non-governmental organisations). In another language, it represents the range of institutional practices from personal networks to more abstract social capital.

Third, the international dimension connects to the state (international official organisations), market (trans-national capital), community (international NGOs) and household (migratory members and remittances). Within poorer countries with high aid dependency, as well as reliance upon foreign direct investment and household incomes diversified through migration and remittances, the relationship between rights and correlative duties clearly supersedes the domestic arena and should therefore be included within the welfare regime. In effect the international dimension expands the risk pool within which security is sought and uncertainty managed.

Last, our respecification of welfare regime departs from the OECD welfare state regime in one other way. In recognising the significance of a functioning relationship between rights and correlative duties within informal arrangements, we are in effect relaxing the de-commodification principle as the sole instrument and measure of welfare provision. Where the state's performance in this regard cannot be guaranteed or trusted, informal arrangements in the community domain come to the fore: as substitute service provision on the one hand; and as civil society pressure for improved governance on the other. There is yet a further layer of complexity: frequently the informal arrangements within the community domain are themselves problematic, so that improvements in the relationship between rights and correlative duties are required here also. In particular, if informal arrangements within the community are characterised by patron-clientelism, then we must look to de-clientelisation as the basis for improving the quality of rights and correlative duties. If we do so, then social movements of empowerment become a precondition for the evolution of a statutory rights-based social policy. The central problem for poor people, of course, is whether they can risk such a process of de-clientelisation if the alternatives are unknown and uncertain. Welfare may be delivered to some extent, and perhaps only precariously and therefore insecurely, through a range of problematic state and non-state relationships.

The focus on welfare has disturbed some of our poor-country colleagues who have associated welfare with the charitable voluntarism of NGOs and religious organisations. In structural reform terms, welfare is thus seen as a pale substitute for development, which implies more radical change and the achievement of more stable rights, perhaps deriving from grassroots empowerment. Why, therefore, are we deploying a notion of welfare regime in preference to one of development regime? This debate reflects the parallel yet separate tracks of development and social policy studies, with welfare as somehow the lesser and more luxurious agenda of social policy in richer countries but unable to address the conditions of mass poverty. But welfare, in the economist sense of welfare utility, is what people are primarily interested in: namely their own sustainable survival and pursuit of well-being. In that sense, we see welfare as the more generalisable 'ends' term, with development as a 'means' term with varied connotations. Just as the term 'development' should no longer be confined only to policy or change processes in poor countries, since all countries need to develop, so welfare is not just the prerogative of rich countries, but a pervasive adjunct to the universal notion of well-being.

This volume is organised into three parts. Part I comprises three conceptual chapters by Gough, Wood and Bevan, respectively. The first of these by Gough introduces and elaborates the arguments made above. It situates the welfare state regime paradigm in a broader context of human welfare and social policy. It then contextualises it further and generalises the paradigm to make it applicable to countries in the South and transitional countries. Drawing on the subsequent chapters in part I he distinguishes within this paradigm three 'families' of regime: welfare state regimes, informal security regimes and insecurity regimes. This framework is then applied to analyse contemporary data on human welfare and institutional structures across a hundred nations to identify clusters of regimes across the world.

In chapter 2, Wood elaborates the idea of an informal security regime under conditions where a legitimated state and pervasive formal labour markets cannot be assumed. In poor countries all people, but especially the poor, experience greater uncertainty and a higher sense of insecurity. Risk management takes centre stage and all people, but especially the poor, must rely upon a range of informal arrangements for maintaining sustainable and secure welfare. First Wood applies the idea of the 'peasant analogue' in which labour is not 'freed' as a commodity and political rights are correspondingly circumscribed. As a result, he argues that poor people are located in dependent, hierarchical relationships through which survival and welfare have to be sought. While drawing upon extensive field work experience from South Asia, these arguments have wider, theoretical validity for other regions of the world where significant proportions of labour remain non-commodified, but which are also relatively stable politically (i.e. significantly agrarian alongside large urban informal sectors as in Latin America, parts of Southeast and East Asia, pockets of sub-Saharan Africa and, re-emerging, in transitional countries and countries in Central Asia).

The final chapter in part I by Bevan also starts from the welfare regime approach but proceeds to sensitise it to African realities and by implication to other parts of the world sharing characteristics of high uncertainty and insecurity. She thus develops a generic model of 'in/security' regimes which, she argues, has more relevance to peripheral, dangerous and powerless zones of the world system. Here the very essence of the nation-state is itself contested, partly as a result of colonial history and post-colonial settlements which transgressed other, competing, primordial loyalties and identities. But these are also zones which are not articulated into the global political economy as national economies, and which thereby experience highly unregulated market conditions and collusions with foreign capital, mediated by patron, warlord and comprador economic agents. The pursuit of secure welfare in these circumstances can presume none of the institutional labels that apply to the other two families of welfare regime. Insecurity regimes thus exhibit a far more tenuous relationship between rights and correlative duties, seeing survival mechanisms as more transient and contingent upon the particular alliances being made by power-holders. Bevan describes a world of unstable and frequently violent fission and fusion in which the pursuit of secure welfare is virtually divorced from any recognisable sense of social policy. Reaching poor people with weakened personal social resources in these circumstances of dysfunctional social capital and weak public goods becomes more of a relief process than even a rehabilitation one. Of course the crucial question, under these conditions, is whether there are any signs of shifting interests in the intersection between local vested interests and the global political economy which might encourage institutional reform.

Part II comprises three long case-studies which explore, empirically, welfare regimes in three regions of the world: Latin America; East Asia (excluding China); and Africa. Thus several world regions outside the OECD are not formally included for specific attention in this volume: the degrading statist welfare regimes of the ex-Soviet Union (including the Central Asian states) and Eastern Europe; the emerging regimes in China, India and South Asia (though Bangladesh is covered by Davis in part Ⅲ, chapter 7); and the Middle East.

In the first of these chapters, Barrientos concludes that the Latin American countries outside the Caribbean are transforming into liberal-informal welfare regimes. They are welfare state regimes because a countervailing social policy logic, which emerged in the inter-war period, continues to persist. They are liberal regimes because external pressures from global markets and the US and international institutions destroyed the import substitution strategy on which rested a 'conservative-liberal' welfare regime not unlike that in Southern Europe before the 1980s. They are informal because about half the population in rural and urban informal sectors are excluded, thus displaying aspects of Wood's informal security regime. By the end of the twentieth century, Northern hegemony had effectively imposed economic liberalisation and openness, together with a more market-oriented welfare system, on the continent.

According to Gough in chapter 5, the emerging market countries of East Asia (excluding China and Vietnam) are productivist welfare regimes. Though the form of capitalism differs between Northeast and Southeast Asia, all the states in the region have prioritised economic over social policy and have taken economic advantage of alliances and trade with the US and Japan. What social policy there has been has invested in basic education and health: i.e. social investment rather than social protection. The combination of social investment, low taxes and favourable economic conditions has permitted relatively successful and sustainable welfare via family and household strategies as major institutional supports protecting against insecurity. The 1997 Asian financial crisis exposed the external vulnerability of this regime, without so far generating significant moves towards a welfare state regime outside Korea and Taiwan.

Much of the continent of Africa, by contrast, constitutes a generalised insecurity regime according to Bevan in chapter 6. She takes forward in some empirical detail the arguments that she has developed in chapter 3. Weak states are open to powerful external forces ranging from the world powers, through external governmental organisations, trans-national corporations and international NGOs, to criminal networks. These interact with local patrons to reinforce patronage relationships, resulting either in the precarious adverse incorporation and dependence of the population or in the exclusion of groups from any form of livelihood and welfare and their consequent destruction. The result is a combination of: predatory capitalism; variegated forms of oppression; inadequate, insecure livelihoods; shadow, collapsed and/or criminal states; diffuse and fluid forms of political mobilisation reproducing adverse incorporation and exclusion; and political fluidity, if not outright chaos. This picture of generalised insecurity constitutes an unstable institutional landscape in which the relationship between rights and correlative duties is continuously shifting, requiring continuous adaptation by the poor as they negotiate short‐term solutions to welfare in the absence of longer‐term ones.

In part III we broaden our focus to trans-national factors and actors by first examining Bangladesh, a country with a long history of foreign aid, which displays, inter alia, the significance of including external actors within our regime analysis. Welfare outcomes are generally poor and insecurity is endemic. The welfare mix in Bangladesh is much more reliant on family, kinship, community, local government and 'civil society' forms of welfare provision, which together establish some informal but stable claims to entitlement. In addition, the foreign aid community and other bilateral and global actors mediate the welfare mix in critical ways. Aid dependency brings an external discourse about rights and correlative duties into the society, offering the prospect of a welfare state regime via well-governed and targeted state interventions underpinned by a growing economy alongside successful agrarian subsistence. However, that model is difficult to reproduce under conditions of elite capture of aid and continuing economic vulnerability to volatile global markets, in which a new transparent settlement between rights and correlative duties cannot be realised without losing comparative advantage. This is the contradictory fix for many similar societies. Under such conditions, deep structures continue to define the relationship between rights and correlative duties as highly personalised, segmented, preferential, discretionary and clientelist, as patrons of various kinds intermediate between the needs of poor people and the imperfect institutions in the state and market domains. Patron-clientelism provides some security of welfare, but it comes at the cost of adverse incorporation - individual or collective - which blocks more radical reform and the structuring of domestic interests within a welfare state regime discourse. Instead, the informal security regime prevails.

In chapter 8, Room shifts the trans-national focus from countries and nation-states towards a concept of multi-tiered, international welfare systems, thus bringing international-level covenants, treaties and agreements into the regime relationship between rights and correlative duties. Prompted by Deacon's pessimism that European-style welfare regimes can never develop in the South, Room considers the possibilities that global or regional forms of welfare regime can emerge. His analysis draws on the experience of the most successful regional organisation, the European Union, where growing economic integration has fostered moves towards 'multi-tiered governance' and social interventions. If applied to Southern regional groupings, let alone the global level, this would entail the supra-national governance of economic relationships, aid and debt relief, and social regulation, standard setting and redistribution. Whatever the practical politics of this strategy, the implication is that welfare regimes cannot be conceived solely at the national level. Increasingly they will need to be situated within regional, if not global, systems of governance.

© Cambridge University Press

Table of Contents

Introduction Ian Gough and Geof Wood; Part I. Understanding Insecurity and Welfare Regimes in the South: An Analytical Framework: 1. Adapting welfare regimes to development contexts Ian Gough; 2. Informal security regimes: embedding social policy in the search for a secure institutional landscape Geof Wood; 3. Conceptualising in/security regimes Philippa Bevan; Part II. Regional Regimes: 4. Latin America: towards a liberal-informal welfare regime Armando Barrientos; 5. East Asia: the limits of productivist regimes Ian Gough; 6. The dynamics of Africa's in/security regimes Philippa Bevan; Part III. Regimes in Global Context: 7. Rethinking the welfare regime approach in the context of Bangladesh Peter Davis; 8. Multi-tiered international welfare systems Graham Room; Conclusion Geof Wood and Ian Gough.

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