Political economic analyses of recent social protection reforms in Asian, African or Latin American countries have increased throughout the last few years. Yet, most contributions focus on one social protection mechanism only and do not provide a comparative approach across policy areas. In addition, most studies are empirical studies, with no or very limited theoretical linkages. The paper aims to explain multiple trajectories of social protection reform processes looking at cash transfers and social health protection policies in Kenya. It develops a taxonomy and suggest a conceptual framework to assess and explain reform dynamics across different social protection pillars. In order to allow for a more differentiated typology and enable us to understand different reform dynamics, the article uses the approach on gradual institutional change. While existing approaches to institutional change mostly focus on institutional change prompted by exogenous shocks or environmental shifts, this approach takes account of both, exogenous and endogenous sources of change.