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Dealing with Poverty: Change and Continuity in Argentine Social Policies
Unformatted Document Text:  deterioration of the family as a basic social link: “Integral Intervention”, “Territorial Perspective”, “Inter-jurisdictional Articulation”, “Massiveness of Benefits”, “Planning from the bottom-up”, “Strengthen of Participatory Spaces”, “Promotion of Local Development and Social Economy”, and “Social policy from a Promotional Perspective” are said to be the new guidelines of social policy since 2003 21 . Working against hyper-specialized and fragmented policies of the previous decade, the MDS postulates the necessity of integral and flexible social policies that consider at once the multiple faces of poverty (i.e. malnutrition, difficulties in accessing to health care and education, habitat, unemployment, and so on) 22 . Against centralism, standardization and “canned” programs (programas enlatados) 23 , it proposes the notion of territoriality (i.e. the consideration of local resources and knowledge and the participation of local communities in the decision-making process of policies). The notion of territoriality has been expressed, according to the MDS, not only in terms of the politics of social policy implementation, but also in some organizational reforms. First, the amount of MDS’ employees has increased considerably in recent years. Moreover, “territorial agents” (employees that belong to the MDS but work and live in local territories) has increased more than “central agents” (employees that work and live in the city of Buenos Aires) 24 . Second, the MDS has created a new institutional figure, the Centers of Reference; that is, MDS’ offices established in the provinces with functions of coordination of national social plans and “territorial agents”. In addition, some programs, such as the “Train of Sanitary and Social Development” or the Program “Promoters of Social Change” 25 are also part of the policy 21 Document “Lineamientos de Política Social”, Cuaderno N°1, MDS, pp. 23-8, 2006. 22 The MDS connects this new integral vision of state, in part, with a policy of hierarchisation of social workers with respect to other professionals. Between 2003 and 2007, the amount of social workers hired by the MDS has increased 300% and the MDS established an extra pay for social workers. Document “Los Recursos Humanos del Ministerio de Desarrollo Social” (RRHH), p. 6, 2007. Available on-line: www.desarrollosocial.gov.ar/Institucional/rrhh.asp . Consult: November 2007. 23 In the jargon of state officials, the expression “canned” programs (programas enlatados) pejoratively refers to social programs, usually designed by international organisms, characterized by the standardization of methods and the homogenization of problems without taking into account the particularities of local realities. 24 RRHH: p.4. 25 This program is carried on by the Undersecretary of Popular Training and Education. Until 2007, the person in charge of this unit was José Ceballos, a leader of one of the unemployed movements, “Barrios de Pie”, aligned with Nestor Kirchner’s government. It consists of training local communitarian leaders and organizing them in another territorial institutional figure, the Units of Work and Participation . LB, pp. 275-278. Although we are not going to develop this variable here, it is worth noting that the recent recruitment of leaders of unemployed workers movements by state is another important point of departure to explore changes in social policy

Authors: Perelmiter, Luisina.
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deterioration of the family as a basic social link: “Integral Intervention”, “Territorial
Perspective”, “Inter-jurisdictional Articulation”, “Massiveness of Benefits”, “Planning from
the bottom-up”, “Strengthen of Participatory Spaces”, “Promotion of Local Development and
Social Economy”, and “Social policy from a Promotional Perspective” are said to be the new
guidelines of social policy since 2003
. Working against hyper-specialized and fragmented
policies of the previous decade, the MDS postulates the necessity of integral and flexible social
policies that consider at once the multiple faces of poverty (i.e. malnutrition, difficulties in
accessing to health care and education, habitat, unemployment, and so on)
. Against
centralism, standardization and “canned” programs (programas enlatados)
, it proposes the
notion of territoriality (i.e. the consideration of local resources and knowledge and the
participation of local communities in the decision-making process of policies).
The notion of territoriality has been expressed, according to the MDS, not only in terms of the
politics of social policy implementation, but also in some organizational reforms. First, the
amount of MDS’ employees has increased considerably in recent years. Moreover, “territorial
agents” (employees that belong to the MDS but work and live in local territories) has increased
more than “central agents” (employees that work and live in the city of Buenos Aires)
.
Second, the MDS has created a new institutional figure, the Centers of Reference; that is,
MDS’ offices established in the provinces with functions of coordination of national social
plans and “territorial agents”. In addition, some programs, such as the “Train of Sanitary and
Social Development” or the Program “Promoters of Social Change
are also part of the policy
21
Document “Lineamientos de Política Social”, Cuaderno N°1, MDS, pp. 23-8, 2006.
22
The MDS connects this new integral vision of state, in part, with a policy of hierarchisation of social workers
with respect to other professionals. Between 2003 and 2007, the amount of social workers hired by the MDS has
increased 300% and the MDS established an extra pay for social workers. Document “Los Recursos Humanos del
Ministerio de Desarrollo Social” (RRHH), p. 6, 2007.
Available on-line:
. Consult: November 2007.
23
In the jargon of state officials, the expression “canned” programs (programas enlatados) pejoratively refers to
social programs, usually designed by international organisms, characterized by the standardization of methods and
the homogenization of problems without taking into account the particularities of local realities.
24
RRHH: p.4.
25
This program is carried on by the Undersecretary of Popular Training and Education. Until 2007, the person in
charge of this unit was José Ceballos, a leader of one of the unemployed movements, “Barrios de Pie”, aligned
with Nestor Kirchner’s government. It consists of training local communitarian leaders and organizing them in
another territorial institutional figure, the Units of Work and Participation
.
LB, pp. 275-278.
Although we are not
going to develop this variable here, it is worth noting that the recent recruitment of leaders of unemployed
workers movements by state is another important point of departure to explore changes in social policy


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