Power-resources and social policy in Bangladesh: a life-history perspective

  • Peter Davis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This is a study of social welfare and ill-fare in Bangladesh. The overarching thesis can be summarised as follows: Informal forms of social protection play a vital role in protecting the poor in Bangladesh during times of crisis, making the ‘welfare regime’ in Bangladesh distinct from welfare systems described in social policy studies of welfare states. In order to understand the role of this social protection within the ‘welfare regime’ of Bangladesh in a holistic way, both macro and micro-level research approaches were followed. The macro-level study provided a landscape view of the range of the more formal and sectored basis of the welfare mix, and macro-trends in welfare outcomes, such as aggregate poverty or inequality. However, a more balanced picture is obtained when the actions and trajectories of poor people are examined at the micro-level. Using life stories to uncover these complex micro-level realities, I examined how particular episodes of crisis, coping and opportunity tend to have disproportionate consequential importance in the life trajectories of poor people in Bangladesh. The research shows that a better understanding of people's own interpretations of their behaviour during these critical episodes would help analysts and policy makers to more clearly recognise causes of impoverishment, the structured violence people face in their everyday lives and the way that formal and informal channels of ‘social protection’ succeed or fail to mitigate these crises. These patterns are ‘structured’ because the distribution of ‘power-resources’ in communities is affected by, and affects, both patterns of crisis and the workings of (formal and informal) social protection. The formulation and analysis of social policy in such contexts can be better informed by exploring the way micro-level social realities are linked to wider social structures. This thesis explores these linkages and aims to inform further research and policy aimed at improving both the formal and informal social protection of the vulnerable in developing contexts.
Date of Award25 Jan 2006
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorGeof Wood (Supervisor) & Ian Gough (Supervisor)

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