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Publication Details

Reference
Bond, Patrick (2008) The Political Economy of the Welfare State (Course Outline). SCHOOL OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES Masters Programme in Development Studies : -.

Summary
The overall aim is to survey and engage with debates over the appropriate forms of state intervention in selected fields of social policy. ‘Political economy’ refers to the overall configuration of power relations in public policy formulation, which in turn is an outcome of institutional evolution, accumulation processes, social struggles and other factors both global and domestic. ‘The Welfare State’ is a phrase that emerged to describe northern societies during the Keynesian, social-democratic era, but analysis of welfare state functions can also be usefully translated to other settings.

South Africa is the primary case site, but other countries in the global North and South will be considered. The course provides an overview of key political economic developments in relation to development and state policies, with attention to global processes and African state/society/economic relations. In South Africa, we will consider how the most significant socio-economic development policies were adopted during the first 13 years of ANC rule (1994-2007), and their results, augmented by a general theoretical and comparative survey of how such policies are formulated and influenced in other states.

We will draw upon seminal books and articles from the international social policy literature. Scores of other relevant global/African/South African documents in the public realm are provided. Additional audio/visual materials – including film footage and internet sites – will be utilised during the course. The ‘Developmental State’ and ‘Two Economies’ disputes in South Africa are amongst areas of enquiry, because these relate closely to other settings.

Students are expected to actively participate in what will be a seminar format, particularly in areas relating to their own specialisations and experiences. If possible, the course will hence overlap with the students’ own research agenda, so that the written assignments will contribute to the thesis writing process, both in terms of background literature and concrete case studies.

This course can be considered, in addition, as preparation for the subsequent course on Social Policy (taught by Professor Francie Lund), with its attention to nutrition and food security, social security, population policy, community care, public works programmes, primary health care. Hence most of the fields covered in ‘The Political Economy of the Welfare State’ are chosen specifically to not overlap. Instead, development and economic policy issues will be
chosen to highlight AIDS (especially treatment), basic municipal services (especially water, sanitation and electricity), socio-environmental dilemmas (such as climate change), and economic debates that relate to social policies (e.g. macroeconomic policy, microfinancing and megaprojects).

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