Marginalization and Social Welfare in China

By Linda Wong | Go to book overview
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Chinese socialism and social welfare

THE NARROW WELFARE SYSTEM IN CONTEXT

This book is about social welfare for marginal groups in Chinese socialist society. By marginal groups are meant individuals who are excluded from participation in the social life of the community. Their ranks include people who are unable to work, individuals who have no family, households stricken with poverty, persons who need help to overcome temporary hardships (due to natural disasters or military service), the mentally and physically disabled, and all those who lack the skill for unassisted survival. The job of helping these groups rests with the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the local community groups it supervises. This structure of aid is distinct from the wider system of income, social security, goods, services and life guarantees available to working people in China. Relating to China's broad social welfare system, for instance social security and work-based welfare packages, quite a lot has been written. Meanwhile, comparatively fewer accounts on support targeted at her dependent and needy citizens are on offer. And yet in a socialist society these are the very persons whose treatment best reflects the society's compassion and solidarity. In market economies which extol merit, competitiveness and success, such persons are often treated with contempt. Socialists' values are supposedly different. Their claim to moral supremacy is premised on their abiding commitment to equality and fraternity. The possession of poverty, handicap and other personal misfortunes are not grounds for denying respect and communal membership. Indeed the worth of human beings cannot be measured by their economic values. The ultimate goal for social distribution is allocation according to need, rather than merit and ability. Thus a study of the social treatment of dependent groups in Chinese society is important in moral terms. By finding out the extent to which marginal citizens enjoy the social rights of citizenship, the current study will shed light on how far socialist morals are honoured by the state and society.

Glazer, an American social policy theorist, calls the system of contributory and as-of-right services and benefits for the general population Welfare I. Wide public endorsement always protects them from the shifting preferences

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