China has taken giant strides toward economic and social development. This has expedited its transformation from the previous class structure of workers, farmers, cadres and intellectuals to a more complicated one that comprises more classes and groups. To find the best way to handle and coordinate the interests of all classes and groups in today’s changed and pluralistic society and form a vigorous and harmonious social order remains the top priority for the country’s social managers.
The high rate of urbanization has prompted an increasing number of farmers to move from rural to urban areas. This too poses a major challenge to the government, which has to decide whether such a big army of rural laborers can be integrated into an alien urban neighborhood where they work and live.
Despite its rapid economic development over the past three decades, China’s Gini coefficient, which measures the wealth gap between the rich and the poor, has kept rising and the income gap between its urban and rural areas and among different regions and groups has been widening. The uneven income distribution is an important cause of public grievance.
Under such circumstances, a key but thorny issue for the government is to find how it can change the income distribution pattern, reverse the widening income gap and set up a reasonable income distribution model to maintain social harmony and stability. The decades-long family planning policy in urban areas, along with a free flow of the population, has aggravated some social problems and poses a new challenge for China’s slow-progressing social management system. The country’s aging society complicates this problem further.
Market-oriented reform has greatly boosted China’s economic development over the past three decades and substantially improved people’s livelihood. But they have brought about some radical changes in people’s behavioral code and values, too. Though the government has bee protecting people’s legitimate and justified pursuit of personal interests, it still does not have enough well-regulated rules and standards to supervise and manage such individual activities.
The country has not made substantial progress in building an ethical and credibility system to adapt to the radical changes in people’s belief and values. To build an innovative social management system, the country should expedite the setting up of a socialist core value system, update its concepts on social management and try to improve its ethical order, credibility system and standards of behaviors that are compatible with its new social management system.
To build a better social management system, the government should try to improve its social management capability and efficiency. It should make more efforts to speed up self-cultivation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), enhance their self-management capability and expand their scope of self-management. Given that NGOs have played only a minor role in the country’s social management process, the government should create conditions that will give full play to NGOs such as self-managing community organizations, civil groups and industrial associations, and encourage them to participate extensively in social management.
Building a good social management system is a huge project that needs heavy input of resources from the entire society. China is poised to use more resources to improve its social management. To facilitate this process, it should take more effective measures to promote more equitable distribution of national resources, and mobilize non-governmental resources and expedite the cultivation and development of national human resources on a large scale to improve social management.
Public money is the most important financial guarantee for a country’s social management work. The government should allocate more funds to promote a balanced and reasonable distribution of the country’s social management resources among different regions. It should take more measures to divert public resources to lower-level governments and increase the funds of grassroots governments to raise their ability to offer social management and services to people and shift their focus to social management and public services.
Besides, the government has to take more effective measures to mobilize more NGOs to participate in social management work. Apart from measures to encourage more organizations, enterprises and nonprofit groups to contribute more resources, the government should also try to improve its charity system by perfecting taxation laws and charity rules.
An increased sense of social responsibility among enterprises and an extensive participation of NGOs will greatly boost the development and innovation of the country’s social management system. Moreover, an army of professionals, specialists and volunteers should be cultivated to promote further development of the social management work.
By Li Peilin
Li Peilin is director of the Institute of Sociology, affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. ― Ed.
(Asia News Network)