Politics of Social Assistance in South Africa: Containing Racial Political Unrest

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 14:45
Oral Presentation
Alper Sukru GENCER, Emerging Welfare, Turkey
In emerging market economies,social assistance programs have considerably increased over the past two decades and South Africa is one of good examples. In the existing literature, social policy expansion in South Africa has mostly been explained by structuralist theories that put emphasis on socio-economic and demographic factors. Nevertheless, this dominant approach to explain the expansion of social assistance programs underestimates political factors, especially that of containing racial unrest. Based on Fox Piven and Cloward's theory of social assistance as a counter insurgency strategy, this article shows that social assistance has a similar function in South Africa of containing racial political unrest. Through a cross-sectional dataset obtained by a random sample survey conducted in South Africa, this article shows that race is a statistically significant determinant in access to social programs, after controlled for socio-economic, political, and demographic variables. This paper contributes to the welfare literature by improving our understanding about the political determinants of welfare expansion experienced in emerging market economies.