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  • Shadow Conditions and the Immeasurable Burden of Improvement

    Tara Patricia Cookson

    Chapter from the book: Cookson, T. 2018. Unjust Conditions: Women’s Work and the Hidden Cost of Cash Transfer Programs.


    Local managers and other authorities threaten women with suspension if they do not perform additional tasks to earn the cash incentive. These “shadow conditions” include participating in political parades, using the state day care, cooking for school lunch programs, building latrines, giving birth in hospitals, contributing to the medical costs of a neighbor’s broken leg, and many other things—as one woman said, “doing whatever the local manager tells me to.” In the context of uneven development, inequality, and discrimination, conditionality becomes a tool for more powerful groups to implement their own projects of improvement among less-powerful groups. While invisible in official documents, shadow conditions reveal the coercive power of incentives and are an exclusionary outcome of making aid conditional.

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    Cookson, T. 2018. Shadow Conditions and the Immeasurable Burden of Improvement. In: Cookson, T, Unjust Conditions. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.49.f

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    Published on May 4, 2018