The overall aim of this course, to be held in the July 2012 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 practices and ideologies within multilateral institutions, bilateral donor relations, the aid industry and other actors in society’s reproduction. From below, the analyses, strategies, tactics and alliances of civil society forces were often decisive and bear careful attention, especially with the 2011 rise of oppositional popular movements demanding socio-economic justice and democracy in North Africa and the Middle East, southern Europe, several Africans and even the United States. South Africa is the primary case site, but other countries in the global North and South will be considered, including the US, Norway and Zimbabwe.