A new era for social protection analysis in LMICs? A critical social policy perspective from the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA)

Rana Jawad

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This paper advocates for a new generation of social protection (SP) research that takes seriously the analysis of political and policy-making processes in the Global South. Based on qualitative research funded by the ESRC and Carnegie Corporation, it combines theoretical insights from social policy and critical policy analysis to highlight the importance of policy framing in shaping development and social welfare outcomes. Empirically, the broader research upon which the paper is based covers the broad range of social policy changes that have happened in the Middle East and North Africa region over the last decade. The critical policy approach adopted in this paper is important because of the endurance of SP as a global orientation in international development interventions at a time when its operationalisation in policy terms appears to be narrower than its professed goals. The paper categorises SP according to three orders of discourse: social risk management, social justice/social contracts, (“ex ante”) institutionalisation of social protection (specifically social assistance), in order to address areas of “discourse closure” (Veit-Wilson, 2000) in the conceptualisation of SP. On the basis of this categorisation, the paper proposes a framework for analysing SP that highlights the importance of three elements to aid SP policy operationalisation: (1) state-civil society relations in the provision of services; (2) the ethical and not only legal parameters of SP; (3) the enhancement of social cohesion as a final SP outcome. These three elements support a process-oriented analysis of SP encompassing policy actors, principles and goals that can better ascertain the long-term impact of SP on social policy agendas in the Global South.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104606
Number of pages15
JournalWorld Development
Early online date26 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Global South
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • Policy discourse
  • Policy framing
  • Social policy
  • Social protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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