The quest for sustainable livelihoods: Social development challenges and social policy responses in Guangzhou, China

Ka Ho Joshua MOK, Maggie LAU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


China’s welfare system has been a typical ‘residual welfare regime’, but the economic reform and market-oriented transformations in recent decades have weakened the original well-balanced ‘residual’ and ‘needs’ pattern. Marketisation of social welfare has intensified social inequality as those who are less competitive in the market-oriented economy have encountered tremendous financial burdens in meeting their welfare needs. In order to rectify the social problems and tensions generated from the process of marketisation of social welfare, the Chinese government has adopted different policy measures to address the pressing welfare demands from the citizens. This article examines how a local government in Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong province, has responded to the call of the central government in promoting social harmony in the context of growing welfare regionalism emerging in mainland China. More specifically, with reference to a case study of Guangzhou, this article discusses how Guangzhou residents assess their social welfare needs and expectations, and how they evaluate the municipal government’s major welfare strategies. It also reflects upon the role of the state in welfare provision and social protection, especially when many social welfare and social services have been marketised in the last few decades in China. Copyright © 2014 Cambridge University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-250
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Issue number2
Early online dateJan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


social development
development policy
social welfare
capital city
social inequality
Social Problems
Social Policy
economic reform
mobile social services


Mok, K. H., & Lau, M. (2014). The quest for sustainable livelihoods: Social development challenges and social policy responses in Guangzhou, China. Social Policy and Society, 13(2), 239-250.


  • Marketisation of social welfare
  • Sustainable livelihoods
  • Unmet social welfare needs
  • Welfare expectations
  • Guangzhou