Handbook on East Asian Social Policy
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Handbook on East Asian Social Policy

Edited by Misa Izuhara

Dramatic socio-economic transformations over the last two decades have brought social policy and social welfare issues to prominence in many East Asian societies. Since the 1990s and in response to national as well as global pressure, there have been substantial developments and reforms in social policy in the region but the development paths have been uneven. Until recently, comparative analysis of East Asian social policy tends to have focused on the established welfare state of Japan and the emerging welfare regimes of four ‘Tiger Economies’. Much of the recent debate indeed preceded China’s re-emergence onto the world economy. In this context, this Handbook brings China more fully into the contemporary social policy debates in East Asia. Organised around five themes from welfare state developments, to theories and methodologies, to current social policy issues, the Handbook presents original research from leading specialists in the fields, and provides a fresh and updated perspective to the study of social policy.
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Chapter 14: Presence of the state: probing the middle class and civic organizations in Chinese societies

Tai-lok Lui and Shuo Liu


One of the leading themes of social studies of East Asian societies since the 1980s falls in the area of economic development and its social and political implications. The early 1980s witnessed first a growing interest in unravelling the secrets of Japan’s economic success and then later a curiosity of rapid economic growth in the Four Little Dragons (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan). After deliberating on the analogy of the ‘flying geese’, with Japan taking the lead and other rising Asian economies following, the focus of attention quickly shifted towards a search for the so-called Fifth Dragon. It was the period of time when Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam attempted to join the league of newly industrializing economies. But then, with the initial success in the Pearl River Delta and then later a deepening of economic reform in the early 1990s, China rapidly emerged as the ‘world factory’. The focal point of discussion of Asian societies since the beginning of the new century has shifted towards the rise of China and India. Though the scope of discussion and analysis was by no means confined to the economy, economic development and its social and political aftermaths constituted the overarching theme of research on East Asia in the past decades. The recipe of economic success and the wider repercussions of economic transformation (one prevailing theme being how economic liberalization and development would bring about democratization) were the key concerns on the research agenda.

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