Conditionality: The Cure Or The Cause? An Exploration Of The Psychosocial Impact Of Cash Transfer Programmes Across Five Settings

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 9:10 AM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Erika GUBRIUM , Social Sciences, Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway
Elaine CHASE , Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford Institute of Social Policy, United Kingdom
Yongmie Nicola JO , Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford Institute of Social Policy, United Kingdom
Sony PELLISSERY , CSSEIP, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, India
Yan MING , Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China
Robert WALKER , Oxford Institute of Social Policy, United Kingdom
Ivar LØDEMEL , Social Sciences, Norway
The use of cash transfers within the anti-poverty policy domain has witnessed a ‘quiet revolution’ across the Global South over the past decade (Barrientos and Hulme, 2008). At the same time, conditionality – the granting of cash transfers or services on the condition that the recipient carries out activities or meets certain behavioural requirements – has been increasingly applied in social assistance programmes in the Global North (Griggs and Bennett, 2010). It is, however, a relatively new strategy to anti-poverty efforts in the Global South. Yet reflecting a contemporary neo-liberal agenda, conditional cash transfers, with some success stories in Latin America, are now being advocated as a policy model for these regions as well (Dornan and Porter, 2012). A comparative, qualitative study across five settings – two in the Global North (Norway, the UK) and three in the South (China, India, and South Korea) – has explored the psychosocial impact of anti-poverty measures aiming to make citizens ‘productive’. The measures studied in welfare settings in the Global North have been specifically structured around an ‘activation’ aim, and those in the Global South have moved away from poverty reduction to a focus on investment in productive citizens (Surender and Walker, 2012). The paper presents findings from a targeted policy analysis and an analysis of interview data with measure recipients in the settings under investigation. Specific focus is placed on the potential for measures to shame or heighten the dignity of measure recipients. It demonstrates how, despite the new possibilities offered by the existence of new transfers, the conditionalities that are attached have the potential to create new spaces for shaming. When claimants are already vulnerable, this may then undermine the efficacy of the measure offered.