The Politics of Social Protection: Is it really the Citizens vs. the Vulnerables?

Despite being seeming political allies, there appears to be a fundamental tension between the proponents of increased migration and the proponents of a stronger welfare state. It arises due to the conundrum of eligibility: is eligibility for scarce state assistance mediated by citizenship or vulnerability? Regimes have oscillated between these positions, sometimes at the cost of their ideological integrity.

The practical implications of this conundrum today play out not just in the global North, although the recent migration crisis in Europe has thrown it in stark relief. The tension is also apparent in the global South where aid funding in countries like Uganda and Bangladesh is accused—at least in the popular imagination—of getting split between disadvantaged citizens and vulnerable refugees. 

This one-day conference brings together students, academics and practitioners from both the global North and South in an attempt to tease out the politics of social protection. Is it really a ‘turf war’ between the citizens and the vulnerables? Or should we more critically interrogate the perception of scarcity itself? What political processes actually shape these decisions on the ground?