Social Protection for Social Justice

Edited by: Stephen Devereux, Christophe Béné, Deepta Chopra, Keetie Roelen, Dolf te Lintelo, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler and Gabriele Köhler

November 2011
Volume 42 Number 6

The articles in this IDS Bulletin are drawn from a conference hosted by the Centre for Social Protection at IDS in April 2011. They elaborate the linkages between social protection and social justice, to identify opportunities for operationalising the 'transformative' aspects of social protection and to strengthen the case for integrating social protection into broader social policy. Social protection is not only about installing safety nets and alleviating poverty, it also has profound implications for social relations and for local, national and global governance.

The articles in this collection address the perception that insufficient attention has been paid to the politics of social protection, to addressing not just poverty and shocks but structural vulnerabilities and socioeconomic inequalities, and to social protection's relationship with social justice outcomes. 'Social protection plus’ is needed to upgrade projects and programmes from discretionary social assistance to claims-based entitlements.

This 'social protection for social justice' agenda demands an explicitly political approach, driven both from the top and by civil society activism from below. Social protection has been the development success story of the past decade. Not only are social protection programmes extending their coverage across the world, they are increasingly becoming claims-based and justiciable, empowering individuals and communities, and building social contracts between states and citizens. It is important going forward to protect the gains made and ensure that they become permanent and irreversible entitlements. This is a vital next step towards ensuring that social protection becomes an effective instrument for achieving social justice for all.