Social Control in China: A Study of Chinese Work Units

Social Control in China: A Study of Chinese Work Units

Social Control in China: A Study of Chinese Work Units

Social Control in China: A Study of Chinese Work Units

Synopsis

China is in the midst of dramatic economic and social reform--reform that may well suggest a long-term developmental trend toward modernization and democracy. This evolution in the structure of Chinese society means that the authoritarian social control system in China must change if loss of community ties, dislocation, and social disintegration are to be avoided in the coming years. This book provides a blueprint for the social architecture of China and offers an argument for how change in the essential structure of Chinese society must be implemented. Shaw's investigation of work units--the building blocks of contemporary China--pinpoints them as the primary sites of social control and as the most important components of any efforts at reform.

Excerpt

China is undergoing reform as well as experiencing a developmental trend toward modernization and democratization. Fundamental social change is in the making. the social control system is faced with a challenge and revolution. Is present social control about to break down, leading to loss of community ties, dislocation, chaos, and social disorganization?

To answer this question, we must understand the basic structure, process, nature, history, and change of current social control. Is it diffusive, community-based? If it is, the breakdown of community ties may lead to social disorganization, and development of professional control networks will be the way to pull the society out of chaos and build a law- based social order. Is it excessive? When an excessive control structure loosens, it may collapse with a tremendously disruptive force that could send the society into chaos.

To understand the present Chinese social control system and be prepared for its transformation under reform, modernization, and democratization, I choose to begin with social control in Chinese work organizations. in China, work organizations are unitarily called danwei or "work units." the English translation of "work units" may sound strange and awkward but the term is probably the most frequently used phrase in contemporary China. Among ordinary people, "work unit" refers not only to where an individual works but also to where he or she lives and belongs. in official language, it means a basic social cell that receives and executes various policy programs of the communist party and government. What most signifies the importance of work units is that Chinese people tend to use "work unit" rather than "name" to identify individuals.

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