Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Journal Focuses on Politics of Non-State Welfare

April 14, 2011

How does the political landscape shift when social welfare is provided by non-governmental groups – be they sectarian, charitable, local, international, or even families and friends? The recent issue of Studies in Comparative International Development (SCID) is devoted to exploring this question. Brown Associate Professor of Political Science Melani Cammett and Indiana University Assistant Political Science Professor Lauren MacLean acted as guest editors for the issue, titled “The Political Consequences of Non-state Social Welfare in the Global South.” Authors contributed research from China, Ghana, India, Lebanon, and elsewhere.

“Throughout the Global South, diverse non-state actors have historically played critical roles in enabling populations to meet their basic needs, whether by providing or mediating access to social benefits and programs,” the editors write in their introduction to the journal.

“To date, little research explores non-state social welfare, particularly in the Global South, and existing studies tend to focus on technical and administrative concerns while neglecting the potential political ramifications," they write. "Non-state provision may pose more political challenges than proponents recognize, but its effects are ultimately contingent on the types of relationships between state and non-state providers.”

Articles included in the issue are:
• “Middlemen in the Chinese Welfare State: The Role of Philanthropists in Refugee Relief in Wartime Shanghai”
• “Friends or Foes? Nonstate Public Goods Providers and Local State Authorities in Nondemocratic and Transitional Systems”
• “Partisan Activism and Access to Welfare in Lebanon”
• “Gaining Access to Public Services and the Democratic State in India: Institutions in the Middle”
• “Exhaustion and Exclusion in the African Village: The Non-State Social Welfare of Informal Reciprocity in Rural Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire”

Based at the Institute, SCID is an interdisciplinary journal whose major areas of emphasis include political and state institutions, the effects of a changing international economy, political-economic models of growth and distribution, and the transformation of social structure and culture. Institute Director Barbara Stallings serves as the journal’s editor.