Social protection policies involve distributional politics and practices that pose significant challenges. Focusing on Indonesia, where such policies are rapidly expanding, this paper discusses two programmes most relevant to the poor - the rice for welfare (Rastra) scheme and the conditional cash transfer (PKH) programme. We elaborate on the tensions between a "layered" approach to social protection (where new institutional arrangements are placed on top of, or alongside existing ones) and a "nested" approach (where community-level distribution principles are located within wider state arrangements). The paper concludes that Indonesia is still looking for a welfare regime that is compatible with its political-economic situation and cultural practices. This study argues that, to improve the "fit" of social protection policies, policymakers will need to take a more polycentric approach, allowing the state-supported targeting logic to accommodate the social ethics and moral concerns of the country's rural poor.