Microinsurance as Social Protection: Negotiations about the Welfare Mix in the Face of Global Social Policy
My research is concerned with current transformations of social protection and with the role of transnational actors in this field. More concretely, I study the proliferation of insurance products for the low-income population in developing countries, so-called microinsurance. Microinsurance schemes are promoted by a complex transnational network of international institutions, insurance companies, NGOs, microfinance institutions, and often public institutions. Among the main purposes of microinsurance is the extension of formal social protection to informal workers and peasants. Adopting a broader perspective, this research asks how this mechanism is to be characterized if considered from the view point of welfare production paradigms. In many cases, the introduction of microinsurance opens an arena for negotiations about the particular responsibilities of households, communities, the private sector, and the state with regard to social protection. My research is concerned with these negotiations that are initiated as micro-insurance is translated into the local context and becomes part of the local life-worlds of the target population. I study the welfare paradigms that microinsurance becomes part of and the influence that national and international actors have on this process. As I focus on agricultural microinsurance, climate change is a central reference point of the negotiations under consideration.