No cover image. Read preview. Synopsis Eastern welfare systems have largely been neglected by Western social policy. There is very little information in the West about their operation and the differences between them. Yet, as China and South-East Asia emerge as a major regional economic block, it is vital to understand the social models that are in operation there and how they are developing.
This book puts the spotlight on the Chinese and South-East Asian welfare systems, providing an up-to-date assessment of their character and development. In particular it examines the underlying assumptions of these systems and how the processes of globalisation are impacting on them. As well as specific country case studies, there is a valuable comparative analysis of Eastern and Western welfare states.
The book provides a unique insight into the main South-East Asian welfare systems written by experts living and working within them. Few show a determination to achieve a better balance between social and economic development. Moreover, instead of tackling the problems brought about by economic globalisation, governments attempt to reconstruct social welfare so as to convince people to accept the problems as a reality and to make individual changes to meet the requirements of the global economy. A striking example is an expansion of welfare-to-work programmes.
Furthermore, in order to encourage people to sell their labour as a commodity in the labour market instead of relying on social welfare, some East Asian governments have increased the authoritarian elements of their welfare regimes — for example, they require users of social services to search for work within a short period of time under the supervision of social workers, and to receive some compulsory training. The Hong Kong economy has been badly hit by the Asian crisis.
Mainland China is one of the few economies able to maintain an impressive growth rate during the Asian crisis. But despite this the Beijing government also tends to attach increasing importance to economic targets at the expense of social ones. On one hand, the Hong Kong SAR government has used public funds to buy shares from the stock market to support big companies, and has stopped selling most of the public housing flats to the public in order to strengthen the attractiveness of private housing to potential customers. In a review report on the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme CSSA , the government emphasised: Obviously, we should avoid the possible emergence of a dependency culture in which there is a tendency for some employable adults to consider reliance on welfare assistance, a preferred option even when there is employment available.
International experience tells us that long-term dependency is likely to develop when the benefit level has become equal or close to what can be earned on a job. Under the Active Employment Assistance Programme, CSSA applicants are required to apply for at least two jobs per fortnight, attend fortnightly workplan progress interviews, and update their individual plans.
Under the Community Work Programme, CSSA applicants are required to take part in community work for up to one full day or two half-days per week while they are looking for a job. Both of these schemes convey the message that the CSSA will only provide temporary assistance. At the same time, more than 20 welfare-to-work programmes have been provided for young people such as Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and Project Yi Jin , focused mainly on employability through the provision of training.
These economic targets are seen as criteria for assessing its competence in weathering the crisis and sustaining economic growth. The equalising of this narrow economic target with the national goal emphasises its neglect of the social costs of achieving this target and the disproportionate impacts of these costs on the poor.
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First, social welfare in these two economies does not receive the recognition that it deserves — this is especially true as far as its economic contribution is concerned. Second, users of social welfare are made vulnerable to stigmatisation. There is too little attention paid to the exploitative nature of the labour market and the failure of the global economy to provide sufficient jobs. Instead, social service users who fail to secure a job in the private market are seen as a social burden. Third, the opportunities are overlooked for developing the cultural identity of East Asian people in general and Confucianism in particular through the provision of social welfare.
Worse still, the governments play little heed to the negative effects of capitalism on Confucianism. Blecher, M.
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