Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by David S.G. Goodman
Research on Chinese politics has only recently begun to include welfare and social security. Studies of the Mao and early post-Mao periods concentrated on political leaders, institutions and state–society relations without taking account of social policies to provide for the poor, elderly and unemployed or to deliver health services and education. Social policy research, meanwhile, tended to describe policies and provisions rather than explain them, or to portray them as rational responses to emergent social problems (Dixon 1981; Wong 1998; Leung 2005; Yang 2003).2 Only from the late 1990s did political scientists begin to explore the politics that shape welfare and social security policies and, conversely, the role that these policies played in Chinese politics (White 1998; Frazier 2010; Saich 2011; Duckett 2001, 2004, 2011). Despite their neglect, welfare and social security policies have since the early 1950s been an important part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) political project of ‘modernizing’ China. That political project led the CCP to adopt development strategies influenced by the dominant ideologies and economic development paradigms of the major world powers, particularly the Soviet Union from the 1950s, and then the United States from the late 1980s.
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