Inequality, private redistribution and social identity: an empirical investigation of personal networks of support in Namibia

Oppel, Annalena (2020) Inequality, private redistribution and social identity: an empirical investigation of personal networks of support in Namibia. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Higher levels of inequality have been associated with lower levels of well-being and welfare of a society. An individual cannot be unequal – inequality arises collectively and in comparison. The present research revisits inequality through the lens of interpersonal and in-group dynamics by exploring personal networks of economic support. It thereby asks:

In which ways are socioeconomic inequalities entangled with practices of private redistribution?

These dynamics were explored in Namibia, a country with inherited inequalities from former apartheid structures. It thus pays particular attention to ethnic identity groups. Using a mixed-method approach which comprises both qualitative statements and structural properties of 205 personal networks of support, I explore a mutual constitution between inequalities as systemic outcome and behavioural dynamic across ethnic identity groups.

Building on previous insights which have stressed the continuance of stratifications due to apartheid, I show how inequality is reflected in personal meaning of support, i.e. responding to external challenges such as unemployment crafting responsibilities to provide support.

I further demonstrate that providing more can be associated with higher socioeconomic positions and greater socioeconomic distance in support relationships. Such reflects higher vertical inequality in support relationships particularly for non-white ethnic identity groups.

Lastly, I propose a novel approach to measuring overall distributive effects of private transfers on income inequality. I find evidence for similarities in terms of socioeconomic profiles within support relationships, yield different distributive effects on income inequality.

In sum, my research demonstrates how applying a different perspective on economic support, most commonly termed informal support or informal safety nets in the Global South, can yield new insights. It thereby contests the notion of ‘informality’ where social practices constitute a vital part of social realities and further illustrates potentially conflicting priorities for individuals participating in economic and social systems where different degrees of individualism versus collectivism prevail.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory. The state. Theories of the state > JC501 Purpose, functions, and relations of the state > JC0571 State and the individual. Human rights. Civil rights
K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence > K0520 Comparative law. International uniform law > K3154 Constitutional law > K3224 Individual and state > K3240 Human rights. Civil and political rights
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2020 15:03
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2020 15:03

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