Rights, claims and capture: understanding the politics of pro-poor policy

Rights, claims and capture: understanding the politics of pro-poor policy

Competing ideas about the role states should play in encouraging particular forms of development

Paper addresses the ways in which politics and power affect pro-poor policy. An important point of departure in this literature, is the assertion that poor people are generally disadvantaged when it comes to influencing policy and are therefore poorly placed to influence the ways in which states allocate rights and resources within society.

This paper considers this dilemma by addressing three interrelated features of pro-poor policy:

  • the role that states play in promoting and implementing redistributive policies
  • the ways in which social actors affect these actions
  • competing ideas about the role states should play in encouraging particular forms of development

In so doing, it examines the challenge of implementing coherent policy, exploring problems of coordination, influence and capture. It also considers the ways in which mainstream thinking about rights, governance and development has transformed the conditions under which governments and other agents of development design and implement pro-poor policy.

Conclusions:UL>

  • poor people are generally disadvantaged when it comes to (1) influencing the terms on which governments decide and implement pro-poor policies; and (2) obtaining the benefits that policies of this nature would provide
  • mainstream thinking about poverty and development has created an ideological environment in which the ability to fund and support redistributive policies has diminished considerably. In its place, governments have been encouraged to create 'market rights', rights that provide the poor with an opportunity to engage in market relations, but not necessarily the benefits that markets would provide
  • in terms of policy, the impact of this shift in thinking is not entirely clear. That the neoliberal agenda (and other manifestations of 'globalisation') has challenged the traditional nation state is relatively well established. So too, is the notion that globalisation and structural adjustment have inspired new thinking and debate about the 'ideal type' of development management and social organisation. Whether, and to what extent these ideas can reduce or alleviate poverty however, is somewhat less clear
  • governments (as well as other forms of organisational authority) can address poverty by challenging or re-balancing enduring patterns of power and inequality. (This, the paper would argue, is a defining feature of 'the politics of poverty'.) However, the means by which states and other actors can achieve these ends remains a nagging problem for scholars and practitioners alike

    [Adapted from the author]

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