Can Cash Transfer Programmes Have Transformative Effects?

    Cash transfers (CTs), for all their evident success in relieving poverty, have been criticised for failing to incorporate transformative elements into their programme design. In recent years changes have been introduced into the design of CT programmes that go some way towards addressing this concern. This article critically engages the meaning of transformative social protection and introduces a collection of papers that examine whether and under what conditions cash transfers can be ‘transformative’. Among the issues addressed are whether CTs can be catalysts leading to positive changes, material, subjective and relational in the lives of poor people; what are the social effects of CTs for beneficiaries, their households and communities; and can they foster horizontal relationships within communities and vertical relationship with the state through developing forms of social accountability and citizenship engagement?