In my project I try to reconstruct what kind of state is brought about in the process of doing social policy. I start from the observation that after a considerable period of state withdrawal, in many Southern African countries there are now new state-led policies that target the marginalized population, and that new relationships are formed in the process. In Zambia, one of these social policies is a cash transfer; another one a subsidised input scheme for small-scale farmers. I study both these programmes to understand how the state is coming back into being through its own practices. I ask: what kind of state is emerging in the new social policies, and how? My material comes from qualitative interviews – mostly with state officers, and additionally with recipients of the two programmes, international actors such as the UN, and a range of civil society actors. My data collection as well as analysis were informed by a grounded theory methodology. I also try to factor in colonial and post-colonial historical legacies, particularly with regard to inequalities.
My preliminary findings centre around the symbolic order of responsibilities that is produced in the realm of social policy; the ambiguous role of local intermediaries who assist the state in getting to know the poor; and the effects of internationalised policy making. Overall, my argument goes in the direction of saying that the current Zambian state in social policy is in a dialectic process: on the one hand, it is increasing its reach towards marginalised citizens; on the other hand and simultaneously, it is manifesting its own boundaries in discourse and actual practice.
Prof Dr Klaus Schlichte, InIIS
Prof Dr James Putzel, LSE
PD Dr Ulrich Franke, InIIS