Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Beyond Synergy: States, Societies and The Right to Welfare in India

With the introduction of a number of 'socio-economic rights' that guarantee employment, food security, education and information introduced by the national government, and 'governance rights' introduced by subnational governments, India's welfare state has significantly expanded over the last decade. A distinctive feature of this emerging welfare state is its commitment not just to delivering material benefits to its citizens but to deliver welfare in a manner that is transparent, accountable and participatory. This has taken the form of a range of accountability mechanisms and democratic interfaces instituted at the level of the local state. As the Indian state embeds itself more deeply in the social and political lives of its citizens than ever before, with the potential to reconfigure relations between the state and social groups more dramatically than ever before, we know little about what explains unevenness in levels of "local stateness" and its relationship to uneven welfare outcomes. Based on twelve months of mixed methods research in India's highest poverty state, Bihar, this project will examine how these accountability mechanisms shape and are shaped by bureaucratic culture and citizenship practices and in turn how these interactions determine welfare outcomes. After using quantitative data analysis to look at patterns of unevenness, I will use ethnographic methods to identify the conditions under which high levels of "local stateness" are associated with programmatic outcomes. This will extend existing explanations for variations in welfare outcomes that stop at the subnational level, build a more proximate conceptualization of state capacity and advance theories of state-society synergy by specifying what co-production arrangements look like and when they produce positive outcomes and when they don't.