Significant others: the influence of support relationships and the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) cash transfer programme on the wellbeing of vulnerable urban people in Ghana

  • Ramlatu Attah

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis has two main objectives. First, it investigates how social support relationships - embedded within kinship systems, friendship networks and associational groups - contribute to the wellbeing of cash transfer beneficiaries in two urban districts in Ghana. Second, it explores how a formal social protection programme affects the wellbeing of beneficiaries both directly and indirectly via its effect on these other support relationships. The thesis takes the Ghana Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) cash transfer programme as a case study, examining how it is implemented in practice within an urban setting, and how social support relationships influence its effect on the wellbeing of cash recipients. Throughout this thesis wellbeing is used as a discursive space for looking at the often neglected non-material dimensions of wellbeing. In particular, it takes a relational wellbeing approach which emphasises how material, emotional and cognitive dimensions of wellbeing are embedded in social relationships. It uses a Qualitative Longitudinal Research (QLR) approach, complemented by a qualitative social network analysis to map the constellation of relationships on which urban recipients of LEAP transfers rely, and to explore the motivations and rationalities underpinning them.The findings of the thesis add to existing research on social relationships and cash transfers in Africa by extending the analysis to a contemporary urban context. They challenge the assumption that urban residents can draw upon a vibrant support system, by finding that such relationships can be unreliable, provide inadequate support and can be associated with exclusion and marginalization. In addition, the thesis finds that norms underpinning support relationships are constantly being reshaped and challenged. The thesis also highlights the important but diverse effects that formal social protection programmes can have on material, emotional and cognitive wellbeing of recipients, both directly and indirectly via their effect on other significant social relationships of beneficiaries.
Date of Award2 Nov 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJames Copestake (Supervisor) & Roy Maconachie (Supervisor)


  • Ghana, social protection, cash transfers, wellbeing, relationships, relational wellbeing, Qualitative Longitudinal Research, Social Network Analysis

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