Marginalization and Social Welfare in China

By Linda Wong | Go to book overview

10

Conclusion

SOCIAL WELFARE WITH CHINESE CHARACTERISTICS: FEATURES AND DETERMINANTS

Social welfare in China, as exemplified by the welfare work of civil affairs bureaux, local communities and mutual aid, is a manifestly residual approach to social care. It builds on a narrow conception of welfare. The core programmes aim at social amelioration for the most needy people in Chinese society-the 'three-no's', hardship households, dependants of soldiers and martyrs, disaster victims, the disabled. These are people who are least able to help themselves either permanently or during times of contingency. Yet aid is confined to the most wretched among them and is discretionary, stingy and tainted with stigma. The relaxation of authoritarian control gives rise to more social deviance. Consequently, social rehabilitation work with people like prostitutes, vagabonds and drug users descends on statutory welfare agencies, just as it was in the early days of the regime. Additionally, ordinary people who are not destitute but are not duly served by production units and kin require services too. However, because resources are short, only self-financed community-run programmes are on offer. For those with means, state services are available on a charge basis. The open access policy is a two-edged sword. On the one hand it meets new needs and brings in added revenue. On the other hand it creates stratification hierarchies and denies the poor. Significantly, the most numerous group in Chinese society, the peasants, are expected to practise self-reliance and mutual help. As always, they have never been the state's responsibility. To pay for a new framework of rural welfare is clearly beyond the power of the state. Hence, peasant society must continue to stand on its own feet. What makes this more difficult is the stripping of the old collective canopy. Building new support networks on the strength of local resolve and endowment increases regional inequality. In the urban areas as well, growing marketization has reconfigured social interests and opportunities. One of the groups to fall from grace is workers in state enterprises, the traditional elites of socialist society. For them the gap between social insurance and relief is no longer bearable. Thus, across both town and country, the lack of

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Marginalization and Social Welfare in China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figure viii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiv
  • 1 - Chinese Socialism and Social Welfare 1
  • 2 - The Culture of Welfare 24
  • 3 - Social Welfare in the First Three Decades 43
  • 4 - The New Welfare Challenge 62
  • 5 - Welfare for Veterans and Peasants 84
  • 6 - Urban Welfare and Mutual Aid 113
  • 7 - The Role of the State 137
  • 8 - Utilitarian Chinese Familism 158
  • 9 - The Collective Canopy 182
  • 10 - Conclusion 205
  • Bibliography 215
  • Index 237
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