China's welfare system has been a typical 'residual welfare regime', but the economic reform and market-oriented transformations in recent decades have weakened the original well-balanced 'residual' and 'needs' pattern. Marketisation of social welfare has intensified social inequality as those who are less competitive in the market-oriented economy have encountered tremendous financial burdens in meeting their welfare needs. In order to rectify the social problems and tensions generated from the process of marketisation of social welfare, the Chinese government has adopted different policy measures to address the pressing welfare demands from the citizens. This article examines how a local government in Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong province, has responded to the call of the central government in promoting social harmony in the context of growing welfare regionalism emerging in mainland China. More specifically, with reference to a case study of Guangzhou, this article discusses how Guangzhou residents assess their social welfare needs and expectations, and how they evaluate the municipal government's major welfare strategies. It also reflects upon the role of the state in welfare provision and social protection, especially when many social welfare and social services have been marketised in the last few decades in China.
Bibliographical noteThe authors would like to thank the Hong Kong Institute of Education for providing research funding. Some of the data used in this article are derived from the project RG25/2009-2010R. Some of the findings generated from the research project related to this article were also published in Mok, K. H. and Huang, G. (2013) ‘Resident Evaluation and Expectation of Social Services in Guangzhou’, Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 42, 3, 7–28.
- Marketisation of social welfare
- sustainable livelihoods
- unmet social welfare needs
- welfare expectations