The overall aim of this course, to be held in the July 2011 winter term, is to survey debates over state intervention in selected fields of social policy, political economy and political ecology. ‘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, including Africa, as well as multilateral state functions, bilateral donor relations, the aid industry and other actors in society’s reproduction. South Africa is the primary case site, but other countries in the global North and South will be considered, including the United States of America, Norway and Zimbabwe.
The course provides an overview of the primary political-economic developments in relation to development and state policies, with attention to global processes since the 1970s and the evolution of African state/society/economic/environmental relations. The formidable challenge of climate change looms large in any such policy debate, especially with Durban hosting the 2011 Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.