Urban welfare and mutual aid
DOI link for Urban welfare and mutual aid
Urban welfare and mutual aid book
Urban aid served very well-defined targets: China’s les misérables. When I began my visits to civil affairs bureaux in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai in the mid-1980s, this was often the first point stressed in official briefings. Welfare services were meant only for the ‘three no’s’, people who had no family, who did not belong to a work unit, and had absolutely no means of livelihood. The narrow scope was not seen as a weakness of the welfare system. It was pointed out that city residents did not need direct state support since all enjoyed the right to work and hence could support themselves and their families. Besides, many work units were self-sufficient in running service amenities. If workers had any personal problems, the danwei (work unit) could probably sort them out too. Residents without employment (like the elderly); or whose work unit did not administer in-house services, could turn to neighbourhood programmes like canteens, reading rooms and nurseries. Finally, the family would not shirk its duty, given the Chinese tradition of respecting the old and nurturing the young. Under the circumstances, only the homeless elderly, orphans and the disabled required special assistance.