Can Social Protection Build State Legitimacy? Perspectives from Post War Sri Lanka

Nayana Godamunne

Type: Journal, Sri Lanka

Country: Sri Lanka

Date: 11/04/2017

Full summary

The strong, informal culture of providing social protection was formalised in Sri Lanka during the 20th Century, in which successive governments built public service provisions that became fundamental to the political system. The ethnic based war (1983-2009) has provided an opportunity to empirically explore the relationship between state protection provisions and post war legitimacy.

Drawing on a qualitative study conducted in the fisher regions of Jaffna, Mannar and Trincomalee, which were badly impacted during the war, this article explores what factors contribute to the performance based legitimacy of the Sri Lankan state in providing social protection provisions.


Key findings include:

  • Perceptions of provisions are shaped by people‚Äôs expectations, which varies between and within regions and groups, depending on the state-soceity war and post-war experiences .
  • There is a link between positive programme experience and positive relations with state officials, highlighting that programme delivery engaged citizens with the state through their every-day interactions with state officials.
  • In Sri Lanka, context makes it difficult to scale up local level state-society relations around social protection provisions.

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