WP73: The micro-dynamics of welfare state retrenchment and the implications for citizenship in Africa


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Working papers
McLean, Lauren Morris

In Africa, neoliberal reform has represented a major retrenchment in the public provision of health and education services. In terms of politics, this free or highly subsidized public provision of health and education had always been tightly linked to the expansion of citizenship at the end of colonial rule.

This paper seeks to investigate two research questions through an examination of the micro-effects of the macro-policies associated with the current era of globalization. First, how do Africans at the local level differentially experience welfare state retrenchment in health and education? Despite adopting broadly similar economic reform packages, my previous research in rural Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire suggests that significant variation exists in the micro-experience of these reforms at the individual level. Furthermore, the Afrobarometer data reveals that a substantial number of Africans might not have any experience of public social services at all. This paper thus examines the factors that might produce these different local experiences of reform. Second, this paper asks how do the differences in the micro-experience of social policy shape the ways that Africans conceptualize and practice citizenship.