A theory of informal and formal social citizenship and welfare

Markus Ketola, Johan Nordensvard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Formal social citizenship is limited in how it enables us to think about informal social citizenship and informal welfare. This informal perspective is important in all contexts where access to social rights is negotiated through local and transnational spaces, and where the state is a relatively minor player. By drawing on work on moral economy (Scott, 1976) and informal welfare (Gough and Wood, 2006) the article aims to propose a new theoretical model to understand the nature and social practice of both informal citizenship and welfare. This model departs from a western-centric understanding of nation-state-based citizenship and national welfare states, adopting instead the perspective that informal social citizenship and welfare have existed independently of the nation state as long as there have been human communities. Formal citizenship together with formal welfare rights represent just one particular crystallization of such informal practice. Our proposed model highlights the interdependent (rather than evolutionary) relationship between formal welfare at national level and informal welfare practices at local and transnational levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Early online date15 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jul 2022


  • social policy
  • citizenship
  • development
  • informal welfare
  • moral economy


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