Resources

Bahre, Erik. / / 2012. The Janus face of insurance in South Africa: From costs to risk, from networks to bureaucracies.
Africa, 82 (1): 150-167.

This study examines the consequences of the rapid and unprecedented expansion of insurances for the poor in South Africa. Over the last ten years, South African insurance companies established a myriad of policies in order to incorporate the previously excluded, mostly African, poor and lower middle classes. While poverty, violence and AIDS put state institutions and social relations under pressure, insurances enable people to manage risks in hitherto unthinkable ways. The article examines the development of this new regime of risk as a Janus head, after the Roman god of opening and closing. At the heart of the access to insurance were the incongruencies that were caused by the 'translation' of risk into the seemingly neutral concept of costs and the inability of brokers and intermediary organizations to navigate these translations successfully. Access to insurance - here not defined as having an insurance policy but as making a successful claim when confronted with the insured risk - was fraught with the contradictions of complex high-tech bureaucracies and the poor's social networks.


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Appeared in

Sector: Enterprise Insurance Health Insurance
Region: Southern Africa