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Title: Redistributing the surplus : insights from the political economy of cash transfers in Bolivia (2005-2014)
Author: Aston, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 7866
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis aims to explain the key political economy drivers for the introduction of universal cash transfer programmes in countries which rely on natural resources, considering how their introduction and expansion may strengthen or weaken citizen-state relations in this context. The thesis uses Bolivia as a case study, focusing on the period 2005 - 2014, with fieldwork undertaken in La Paz and El Alto. It employs a political economy analysis framework and uses process tracing and discourse analysis as primary methods, supported by surveys and interviews. We argue that in this context the introduction and scale up to universal cash transfers is primarily driven by shifts in the fiscal capture of natural resource rent, the salience of redistributive and egalitarian ideas in political discourse, and the combination of political linkage strategies employed by politicians to appeal to citizens. We posit that higher-level normative ideas are particularly important, especially if these are domestic in origin and arise from or relate to core political constituencies. Despite evidence of resource nationalist ideas and rights-based language, we find the role of civil society to be weak. Moreover, we assert that where programmes are strongly influenced by charismatic (populist) political linkage strategies and where mechanisms for citizen-state interface are weak, programmes are more likely to be perceived as patronage than rights. We argue that in this context, cash transfers do not constitute "rightful shares," and ultimately do not strengthen rightsbased citizen-state relations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available