Kuwait: Social Change in Historical Perspective

By Jacqueline S. Ismael | Go to book overview

6
The Politics of Stratification: Social Change and Social Control in the Welfare State

IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER, the welfare state in Kuwait was identified as a fundamental function of the relations of production of dependency. The emergence of the welfare state was identified in terms of its role in promoting consumerism and sustaining the accumulation- expropriation structure of dependency. Embodied in the policies of the welfare state are also the social control functions of peripheral capitalism -- specifically, the control of marginalized labor. This chapter examines the social control functions in terms of the politics of stratification and planning in the capital surplus society.


THE POLITICS OF STRATIFICATION IN THE WELFARE STATE

In the post-oil era in Kuwait, the ruling family effectively controls a tremendous surplus that has made its lifestyle one of the most oppulent in the world and far out of reach of the average Kuwaiti. The shaikh's personal income from oil revenue in 1973, for example, was KD 8 million. 1 With the introduction in 1961 of a distinction between the privy purse and public revenue, members of the ruling family began receiving a substantial share of oil revenue in the form of permanent salaries -- amounting to 8 percent of oil revenue in 1975. 2

The power of the ruling family is based upon dependence of the community on oil revenue and the ability of the ruling family to manipulate these revenues. The wealth of the nation has filtered down to the

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