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Cairo Papers in Social Science


Cairo Papers in Social Science


Social policy may be broadly identified as a category of policies explicitly and specifically designed to deal with the manifold problems of poverty, inequality, and inequity. How a state "deals" with these issues has relied on the perception of social policy as primarily a function of economic variables. An alternative view, however, has seen social policy as primarily a function of ideological variables. While there has been substantial examination of social policy development in advanced industrial states, little is known or systematically studied about social policy determinants in the developing world. Nonetheless, it is starkly evident that patterns of poverty, inequality and inequity in the developing world are the outcomes of institutionalized patterns of dominance and aggression. These institutionalized patterns are largely the legacy of imperialism and colonialism. The developing state exercises its monopoly on the use of violence through coercive policy tools to sustain, modify or change patterns of wealth, power and privilege (the correlates of poverty, inequality and inequity). The modem nation-state system emerged in the Arab world as a product of the political settlements among allied powers after World War I, the disintegration of colonial empires in the wake of World War II, and the emergence of the Cold War in the post war period. Social welfare programs, instituted as part of the nation-building process, reflected the ideological character of the nation-state system, as well as the economic capacity of individual Arab states. In this framework, responses to the problems of poverty played an important role in the process of state legitimation. Part I examines the nature of poverty in terms of historical origins and cultural prescriptions. The three case studies examined in Part II reflect patterns of state response. This work is based on research supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council grant and a larger comparative study of social policy in the Arab world to be published by the University Press of Florida. A grant from The University of Calgary Research Grants Committee and a Killam Resident Fellowship were instrumental in bringing the project to its conclusion.



Publication Date

Spring 1995


American University in Cairo Press




social policy, Arab world, social welfare, islamic law, Egypt, Libya, United Arab Emirates


Cairo Papers in Social Science 18(1)


Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social Policy | Social Welfare

Social Policy in the Arab World