Politics and Governance of Social Assistance in Crises From the Bottom Up - Lind, J (2022)


This paper reviews existing perspectives on the politics and governance of social assistance in crises from the bottom up – from sub-national regions (or states/provinces) down to districts, sub-districts, towns, and villages. It examines recent literature on the politics of social protection, which is mostly based on assessment of political dynamics and relationships in settings that are peaceful and only minimally affected (or unaffected) by conflict-related violence. Key insights from political economy analysis of humanitarian assistance, alongside the ‘political marketplace’ – a more recent concept used to understand governance in fragile and conflict-affected settings (FCAS) – are introduced to deepen understanding of politics specifically in situations where statehood is both limited and negotiated. It then reviews various insights into sub-national and local governance, focusing on the role of non-state actors in provisioning and distribution at the edges of state power, delivery configurations in these settings, and the rationalities of local governance and ‘real implementation’.

The paper also outlines some implications and questions for further research on social assistance in crises.