Accepted paper:

Neoliberal poverty alleviation and mutation of "the social": a case of the slum communities in metro Manila, the Philippines

Authors:

Koki Seki (Hiroshima University)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the conditional cash transfer in the Philippines as a poverty alleviation program, this paper will discuss what are the dilemmas and unintended consequences of the regime of neoliberal social policy which relies on the mobilization of community, family, and citizenry.

Paper long abstract:

Focusing on conditional cash transfer in the Philippines as a poverty alleviation program, this paper will discuss the dilemmas and unintended consequences of the regime of neoliberal social policy. There is a widely shared understanding among anthropologists that "the social" has undergone a fundamental reconfiguration. This literature asserts that government agencies have increasingly relied on the mobilization of autonomous citizens and active communities rather than through the totalizing space of "the social". Such government policies emphasize nurturing the ethical citizenship and moral community in ways that citizens internalize the norms and values such as "investment in human capital", "self-help", "voluntarism", "entrepreneurship", "responsibility", "productivity", and "empowerment". However, these discussions are mostly based on the experience of the western welfare state and its transformation since the late 1970s. The focus of this paper is on a conspicuous mixture of neoliberal rationality with social development policy in a country that has never experienced a strong welfare state regime - a situation characterized by a weak state, entrenched social divide, patronage politics, and huge informal sector. What are the dilemmas, contradictions, and unexpected outcomes of the social development policy in countries that mobilize neoliberal rationality for the justification of social spending and redistribution? What is unique in the experiences of these countries which cannot simply be reduced to the neoliberal governmentality of the western post-welfare states? In order to answer these questions, the paper presents a case study of the conditional cash transfer program in urban poor communities in metro Manila.

panel P022
Reconsidering anthropologies of neoliberalism and globalization: historical conjuncture and narratives of rupture (Commission on Global Transformations and Marxian Anthropology)