Vinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo Slider

Pour retourner au programme, cliquez ici
To get back to the program, click here

 

 

ATELIER 18 (en anglais) 
WORKSHOP 18

Democratization of China : Social Work and Community Construction

Yan Miu Chung 
Professeur associé, School of Social Work and Family Studies, University of British Columbia, Colombie-Britannique, Canada

Paule McNicoll 
Professeure associée, School of Social Work and Family Studies, University of British Columbia, Colombie-Britannique, Canada

In this presentation, we will document the rise of grassroots democracy in China and the emergence of the social work profession, both fuelled by the massive economic changes happening in the country.  We will challenge the premise that individualism is a pre-requisite to democracy, provide an example of the rise of participatory democracy in a collectivist society and show that such form of democratic practice can be achieved in the absence of direct democracy, a scenario at variance with the case of the Western world.  Finally, we will reflect on the dangers, limitations and opportunities presented by this particular historical juncture and implications on the democratic renewal of social intervention practices.

In early 1980s, China experimentally introduced a market economy under a socialist ideological political system. The result of this economic experiment has evidently brought wealth to China. Yet, economic growth has also caused many social problems, such as unemployment, homelessness, addictions, family crisis, just to name a few, many of which were once eliminated under the communist regime. The economic reform also abolished the socialist welfare system which was structurally integrated with the production system. Massive lay-off and closing down of national enterprises not only became part of the causes of social problem but also weakened the state’s capacity to take care of people.

Since the late 1980s, there have been a few social measures adopted by the Chinese government, which not only help tackling new social problems but also nurture the once suppressed civil society and democratic participation at the grassroots level. Social work, understood by the Chinese government as a key helping profession, is positioned to play a significant role in the emerging civil society and grassroots democracy.

In brief, economic reform has changed not only the economic but also the social fabric of communist China. As Yan and Tsang (Forthcoming) suggest, this reform cannot upset the political status and control of the Chinese Communist Party. Foreign socio-political measures, including social work profession and direct election, must be selectively assimilated into the Chinese context. However, despite how tight the control is, these new measures have inevitably opened up the public sphere for the general public in terms of political participation. It is highly possible that the civil society in China will become a cradle for democratization of China. However, democratization in China will not necessarily follow the liberal-individualistic mode of democracy in many western countries. Instead, democratization in China will be the result of an ongoing negotiation of political boundary between the Communist Party and the general public. Western democracy embracing liberal individualism and manifested in the form of a multiple-parties system and direct representative election may not be the end result of this negotiation.

 

  

Pour retourner au programme, cliquez ici