The Co-Production of State and Poors Mediated By a Sociotechnical Device: A Socioeconomic Stratification Card

Monday, 11 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 6C P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Claudio RAMOS ZINCKE, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile
We investigated, through institutional ethnography, in Santiago of Chile, the interaction between the state bureaucracy, expressed in networks that go from the ministerial level to the local (municipality), and the citizens seeking state aid. This interaction is mediated by a measuring instrument that is a kind of social stratification form ("Social Protection Card" or "Social Card") used by many social programs for assigning aid. In such a bureaucratic device converge conceptions of social policy, political strategies, methodological procedures, econometric models and statistical calculations, whose production involves experts and government officials. The card is prepared and analyzed centrally, but its implementation is local, in each municipality. The  individuals concur to local offices to be registered and then interviewed in their homes. Then, families will receive the resulting scores and, if they are classified as poor, will have access to state benefits.

The research follows the different stages of this procedure of classification and shows the double performative process that happens. On the one hand, this process contributes to the shaping of connections, networks and forms of state social intervention, as well as to the meaning and core identity of those networks and activities as component of the state. On the other hand, this process classifies individuals as deserving poor or non-poor, conditioning their self-conception. This is a dynamic and interactive process, in which families subject to classification resist and rebel, using the means at their reach, with adaptive strategies not anticipated by the state, to enforce what they consider their poverty condition. These strategies lead to a cumulative result that can be conceived as "normalized fraud" and it ends up being partially legitimized by the state bureaucracy that fails to stop it. All this stabilizes a particular form of relationship between the state and individuals, characterized by dependence and instrumental manipulation.