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China's Welfare Regime 1949-2011: The Key Role of the Communist Party of China

Lei, Jie (2012) China's Welfare Regime 1949-2011: The Key Role of the Communist Party of China. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This study is set out to describe the nature of China’s welfare regime. After carefully reviewing current literature, this study develops a thorough theoretical framework which contains three dimensions. They are: welfare mix, welfare outcomes and historical development. Moreover, case study, document analysis and interviews are the methods employed in this study. Based on massive official archives, this study divides China’s welfare regime into three phases: ‘communist China’ (1949-1978), ‘economic China’ (1978-2002) and ‘social China’ (2002-2011). All of them had distinctive characteristics and certain political ideologies were mobilised to justify the intentions of the Communist Party of China (CPC). In particular, the break-through in ‘social China’ was related to the refreshed ideologies that emphasized social development and state intervention. Against this background, the Urban Minimum Living Standard Guarantee (UMLSG) scheme is selected as a case study to indicate the welfare outcomes. Meanwhile, interviews of poor people and local bureaucrats in Guangzhou are used to complement the findings. It is discovered that, despite the current pro-welfare strategy, the UMLSG was producing minimum effects of de-commodification and social programs, de-familialization or de-clientelization. Furthermore, ignorance of social rights was aggravated by street-level bureaucracy in policy implementation. Due to the over-emphasis on legitimacy, policies of the UMLSG provided little significance for beneficiaries to escape from the stratum. The performance of welfare outcomes and the prevalence of street-level bureaucracy seriously contradicted the refreshed ideologies in ‘social China’ and ultimately undermined the legitimacy of the CPC. In conclusion, this study ascribes the nature of China’s welfare regime to power inequality. This not only refers to the authoritarian role of the CPC in developing the welfare system and shaping ideological hegemony, but also points to the coercion imposed by local bureaucrats on poor people. Therefore, this study advocates that during the development of ‘social China’ social rights should be actualised and this campaign should involve welfare users.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Sociological Studies (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr. Jie Lei
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2012 11:00
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2201

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