Budgeting poverty alleviation: justifying in-kind conditionality in Israeli municipal authorities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Welfare reforms introduced conditionality into cash transfers often by diverse welfare-to-work programs achieving its vast legitimization. Meanwhile in-kind poverty alleviation policies maintained their universal character in the forms of national budgeting of municipal services. Utilizing justification work, the authors aim at showing how conditionality of in-kind support is replacing universalism. The authors ask which justification work assist administrators in shaping the relationship between in-kind and cash transfer and the changing meanings of poverty alleviation practices. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with senior administrators in Israeli local governments analysing them along principles of critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 2010). Further, seeking to elicit the justification work, the authors added some guidelines from the discourse interaction approach. Findings: The findings identified administrators' justification work as taking two major shapes. The first is an emphasis on conditionality in their in-kind support projects, which is limited in time, contingent upon co-operation and sometimes even enhancing choice for those in need. The second is the manifestation of pride anchored in the skilful budget management enabling the achievement of conditional in-kind support projects based on the effort involved. Research limitations/implications: The authors did not prompt the interviewees for the proportions of specific categories, such as whether they are attending and benefitting of the in-kind support programs. This is a limitation of this study that prevented the authors from contrasting perceived achievements against the actual coverage of their projects. Practical implications: It is important that government funding is increased for municipal anti-poverty policies engaging municipal administrator in the struggle for full and better coverage so that capability deprivation is combatted by a combination of cash transfer and quality social services that are universal and at the same time secure mentoring and supervision to all households in need. Social implications: Future research should present the analysis that associates different budgets of each city with its anti-poverty polices and its different socio-economic ranking. Critical social-policy scholars may apply this study’s findings in future analyses of municipal administrators' power position as reinforced by national level policy makers, particularly when introducing controversial policies. Originality/value: Anti-poverty policy and the specific combination between conditional cash transfers and in-kind support have been explained at the level of political–economic decision making. The authors conceptualize the need to explain anti-poverty policy by focussing on municipal administrators’ embedded agency, particularly around controversial issues. By building the professional self of municipal welfare administrators, inter alia by ignoring past meanings of in-kind support as depriving recipients of autonomy, conditionality is extended into in-kind services.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to deeply thank the editor, prof' Collin Williams and four devoted anonymous reviewers whose detailed comments, helped them significantly in achieving the current version of this article. The authors also thank the DSI at Bar Ilan and the NII for funding this project. Most importantly, the authors thank the collaborative interviewees, who took the time to teach them the secrets of Urban Poverty Alleviation Policy.

Funding Information:
Funding: This study had two sources of funding: The Data Science Institute (DSI) awarded the authors the award A database of Urban Welfare Transfers (grant number: C225 247001-900-01). The Israeli National Insurance Institute (NII) awarded the authors the award The Impact of Cash Transfers on Urban Welfare in Israel (grant number: 18563).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Budgeting
  • Conditionality
  • In-kind support
  • Municipal government
  • Poverty alleviation


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