Introduction to special issue: States, citizens and social protection in Africa

While social protection provision in Africa has primarily focused on the reduction of food insecurity and income poverty, it has the potential to transform the relationship between citizens and states. The articles in this special issue provide insights into the theoretical, normative, and empirical assessment of the transformative consequences of social protection programmes across parts of East, West and Southern Africa. The articles reveal that the expansion of social protection has varied effects on how governments, local officials, and citizens view their respective rights and responsibilities. Some case studies suggest the expansion of social protection has strengthened understandings of rights-based social citizenship and the claims that citizen scan make of the state. Others, however, suggest that conservative attitudes and paternalistic practices remain deeply entrenched. The result is that the transformative hopes, widespread within international organisations and donor agencies, are likely to be uneven and slow to materialise in many parts of the continent.