Mittwoch, 26. April 2023, 16:15 - 17:45 iCal

ie.talks mit María Gabriela Palacio Ludeña

Unpacking the Governance of Poverty Eradication: A Critical Study of Neoliberalism, Conservatism, and Technocracy

Seminarraum SG2
Sensengasse 3, Bauteil 1, 1090 Wien


Lecture by María Gabriela Palacio Ludeña (Leiden University) as part of the Public Lecture Series of the Department of Development Studies



The effectiveness of social protection in achieving quantifiable development outcomes has been widely studied, yet the broader systemic consequences of these programs have received less attention. Despite recurrent concerns over the narrow, conservative, and even punitive nature of dominant models of social protection promoted by major international organisations and bilateral donors over the last two decades, these concerns have often been obscured by celebratory impact evaluations and randomised control trials. My research moves beyond evaluating policy outcomes and investigates the potential role of social protection programs in perpetuating rather than ameliorating existing social structures and power dynamics in society, reproducing various forms of discrimination, exclusion, oppression, and social stratification. It investigates how neoliberal formulations of social protection in Latin America legitimise forms of authoritarianism and conservatism through discourses of technocratic state governance. It distils how these policies have failed to address and even reproduced intersectional inequalities despite their emphasis on inclusion and poverty reduction. The project adopts a critical development studies perspective, exploring the continuities and discontinuities of neoliberalism as operationalised through poverty eradication strategies in the region. Additionally, it examines the role of international finance and epistemic communities in shaping and disseminating these policies across borders. The study relies on a comparative case-study analysis of pathway cases, using as the primary methods content analysis of policy documents, evaluations, and reports, as well as an ethnography of the state to understand the implementation of social protection policies on the ground. These methods provide a more nuanced and critical examination of how social protection policies and programs are implemented and how power differences permeate their practices. Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Chile are analysed in light of the role of epistemic communities and international finance in shaping and disseminating ‘what works’ in terms of social protection across borders, as well as the degrees of authoritarianism and technocratic policymaking that they reflect.


Institut für Internationale Entwicklung


Institut für Internationale Entwicklung