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July 09 , 2009

Inclusive States: Social Policy and Structural Inequalities


The heterogeneity of social structures and cultural identities in many developing countries, together with traditional hierarchies, rivalries, and deep-seated biases, has perpetuated inequities. Inclusive States: Social Policy and Structural Inequalities examines the role of the state and society in addressing structural inequalities and identifies a set of policy recommendations to redress them.This book defines structural inequality as a condition arising from unequal status attributed to a category of people in relation to others, a relationship perpetuated and reinforced by unequal relations in roles, functions, decision rights, and opportunities. Inclusive states are those that direct policies to address the needs of all, that respect the rights of citizens to exercise voice and influence on which services are provided and how they are delivered, and that have an interest in strengthening the social contract with their citizens. A central focus of policy remains a concern for equity, both to level the playing field to encourage social mobility and to ensure equity in the distributional effects of policy reforms and development interventions. This book highlights two key challenges for social policy. First, policy design needs to take into account the weaknesses of basic state functions in many developing countries, since these have important ramifications for social policy outcomes. Second, in most developing countries social structures marked by historically rooted structural inequalities pose significant challenges to the provision of services and require a long-term commitment to address underlying questions and problems. This book describes some of the challenges found in different contexts and some of the ways in which these challenges can be-and are being-addressed. This book is part of a new series, New Frontiers in Social Policy, which examines issues and approaches to extend the boundaries of social policy beyond conventional social services toward policies and institutions that improve equality of opportunity and social justice in developing countries. Other forthcoming titles in the series include Assets, Livelihoods, and Social Policy, and Institutional Pathways to Equity: Addressing Inequality Traps.
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