Social protection has the potential to provide a key interface between states and citizens. We consider how the institutional framing and design of social protection can be adapted from top-down forms of provision to forms that stimulate vulnerable citizens to make rights-based claims and demand accountability for their entitlements.
A conceptual framework is developed that illustrates three channels through which citizenship can be engaged through social accountability mechanisms and in the context of social protection provision. Drawing on case studies, we highlight the different contexts in which the design and delivery of social protection can open up spaces for different forms of citizenship engagement and expression. Through opening up institutional spaces where citizens can engage with the state, and each other, we conclude that social protection is uniquely placed to build the economic, social and political capabilities of citizens.