Market transition and social change in China

University essay from Lunds universitet/Sociologi

Author: Tine Hansen; [2003]

Keywords: Sociology; Sociologi; Social Sciences;

Abstract: Research question: Which problems and challenges does the change of economic system and globalization represent in contemporary China, especially concerning social change, welfare and civil society? Topic The topic of the following text is the social change taking place in contemporary China, following market transition from a planned economy and redistributive system to market-like economy. The text also focuses on globalization as a factor in the transition and opening up of the Chinese society. The main subject concerning social change will in particular be the changes in the Chinese society's pattern of social stratification and the distribution of resources as well as social capital. As such the main interest of the following and the focus concerning social change is on how the change in economic system affects the social life regarding the distribution of risks and upholding of livelihood of the Chinese urban citizens and thus the establishment of a new welfare regime in China. Conclusions One of the main conclusions is that market transition in China represent a change in social stratification to a pattern similar to that of the class stratified western capitalist societies, where the main stratification factor becomes mobility, within the market as well as society. A strengthening of mobility brought on by the dynamics of the separation of market and individual from the state, making room for social mobility for the individual. Globalization appears to enhance the mobility factor and further the gap between classes through the potential exterritorialization of the elite, within this changed stratification pattern, and hereby the elite's possible elution of social responsibilities and the creation of welfare mechanisms therefore are at risk of being replaced with the exploitation of the work force instead. The prevailing welfare regime in China substantiates the rather capitalistic tendency as the welfare responsibilities are primarily allocated to the labour market and the family. The power that in the market transition is released from state and set free into the market needs to be distributed between the involved parties and not just empower the trades and industries, for which reason the ability and possibility of the workers to organize and mobilize is called for. Again this is a factor that calls for the creation of welfare mechanisms to counterbalance the class stratifying features of market economy.

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