A longtime observer of social welfare systems in Europe, Cerami brings his keen insight to bear on the relationship between the failure of African states to provide welfare protection and social services to the majority of their populations and the increase in social inequality, ethnic tension, and political violence in the region. The inevitable result of this failure is strife between the elite minorities that states protect and the majorities that are left in chronic insecurity, leading to a climate of violence that is hostile to the survival of democracy. Cerami concludes that improvements in social welfare -- and the economic growth they would help produce -- will require the further democratization of public life. But the book says too little about the progress that has been made on poverty alleviation and democratization in recent years, and the distinctions it makes between the African cases it examines are too reductive to be fully convincing. Still, Cerami’s novel approach to his topic makes this book worthwhile.
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