Patterns and lived realities: Exploring informal social protection across race and education

Informal social protection (ISP) has been recognised as a source of livelihood support for the poor and a critical element of the welfare mix in the global South. While the potential of ISP in contributing to economic welfare is well-documented, less is known about its role in responding to and maintaining horizontal inequalities. Group-based inequality is a key concern of transformative social protection, particularly discriminatory practices and exclusion that shape them. By using a mixed-method approach to social networks, and including non-poor and poor individuals, I provide insights into how support practices differ across race and education in urban Namibia thereby reflecting continued economic inequalities. I argue that ISP plays an important role in understanding transformative approaches to social protection; both by highlighting the importance of exploring ISP beyond a conceptual lens on poverty as well as its potential in maintaining power imbalances in a stratified, unequal society.