News & events


What happens to policy when policy champions move on: A Case Study of Welfare in South Africa (Social Assistance Programme)

26 July 2016
12:15 - 14:00


Dr Miguel Loureiro: Course Convenor for the MA in Governance and Development at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), Sussex University, UK

Ms Aalia Cassim: Senior Economist, National Treasury, SA (study undertaken in her previous employment at Development Policy Research Unit at the University of Cape Town)
Ms Shirin Motala: Senior Research Manager, Economic Performance and Development Programme, Human Sciences Research Council

Date:  26 July 2016  Time: 12:15 – 14:00  Venue: VCRs, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban

Communication between the state and citizens is an essential element for an equal and just society. Growing social inequalities, lack of proper public services, and denial of basic human rights all act to widen existing communication gaps. Key to bridging these gaps is ensuring not only that citizen voices are heard, but also that states have the capacity and incentive to listen and respond. As much of the literature on accountability focuses on citizen voices, a group of researchers from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania – in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies – decided to look at state responsiveness using case studies from various countries. Trying to find instances of accountable governance, when the state is responsive to citizen voice, this team of researchers examined when and how the state listened, to which actors; and why, at times, it chose not to listen.
In this seminar Miguel Loureiro and Aalia Cassim will reflect on insights from a wider research project called When does the State Listen led by the IDS and a South African case study which examined the role of policy champions in driving the 1997 reform of the country’s welfare policy, which established a grant system that today covers about 16 million recipients. While in the beginning the dialogue between the South African state and its citizens was one of concertation, with champions within and outside the state, over time it turned into consultation or simply hearing moments.
The research team identified three types of juncture when the state listened: (1) ‘hearing’ moments, when the state engaged with citizen voices but did not change the way it acted; (2) ‘consultation’ moments, when it engaged with citizen voices through two-way dialogue, resulting in one-sided action; and (3) ‘concertation’ moments, when coalitions between reform-minded officials, politicians, and organised citizen voices engaged in two-way dialogue and action for accountable governance.
Research papers can be accessed as follows:
When Does the State Listen? []
What Happens to Policy When Policy Champions Move On? [

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