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Registration and RecognitionDocumenting the Person in World History$
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Keith Breckenridge and Simon Szreter

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265314

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265314.001.0001

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What Comes After the Social? Historicizing the Future of Social Assistance and Identity Registration in Africa

What Comes After the Social? Historicizing the Future of Social Assistance and Identity Registration in Africa

Chapter:
(p.495) 19 What Comes After the Social? Historicizing the Future of Social Assistance and Identity Registration in Africa
Source:
Registration and Recognition
Author(s):

James Ferguson

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265314.003.0020

Key contemporary mechanisms of distribution are routed through the ‘social assistance’ programmes provided by states. While we still often think of such programmes on the model of the well-known ‘welfare states’ of the global North, new forms of state and international transfers to the poor (in Africa and elsewhere in the global South) suggest a need to rethink the question of social assistance from a less Eurocentric perspective. With a special focus on southern Africa, this chapter reviews the meaning of ‘social assistance’ in a region where the domain of ‘the social’ was never securely established in the first place. It reflects on the possibility that new rationalities and techniques of social assistance may be calling into question the assumed dependence of social service provision on traditional forms of population registration and documentation.

Keywords:   social assistance, distribution, welfare, registration, cash transfers, southern Africa, South Africa

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