Papers in Political Economy / Revue Interventions Économiques, a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal recently published its 56th issue: Développement et inclusion. Le grand chantier des inégalités, de la pauvreté. The issue, dedicated to current debates in inclusive economics and social policy, includes an article by Universalia analyst Lorenzo Daïeff, titled Social Policies for Social Polities: How Conditional Cash Transfers are Undermining Traditional Patrons in Northeast Brazil. The article, which explores the interconnections between social policies, democratic governance, and political participation, is based on research conducted as a graduate student at McGill University, and was finalised during his time at Universalia. Follows the abstract:
Can conditional cash transfers (CCTs) – a popular form of social programs in emerging economies which provide monthly transfers to low-income households conditional on children’s school attendance – transform poor people’s politics, and foster inclusive citizenship? This paper sets out to explore the interconnections between state intervention, clientelism, and citizenship, on the basis of in-depth qualitative fieldwork in Recife, Northeast Brazil, a region historically marked by strong patron-client relationships. Through conversations with 40 recipients and administrators of the Bolsa Família program, the world’s largest CCT, the paper first refutes the idea that CCTs are themselves a form of vote-buying, and goes on to suggest that they may instead be contributing to the decline of clientelistic politics, by weakening the grip of local elites on their voters. The paper then turns to the question of whether the Bolsa Família may, in Recife, be fostering a new form of inclusive citizenship for beneficiaries, and explores competing considerations. It closes on a cautiously optimistic note, and briefly considers the implications for CCTs in other countries and contexts.
The article (in English) is freely available at http://interventionseconomiques.revues.org/2987.