A Yellow Dragon in a Flux of Change: Understanding Social Policy in China

  • Summer schools
  • Academic Partnerships Office
  • Application code LPS-SA202
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Beijing

Historically and literally, dragon is a symbolic icon of state power in Chinese culture. More frequently, the role of state is usually more visible in Chinese society because of its solid centralised power structure. As China has surfaced as an economic giant in the context of globalization, how this post-socialist country will adjust itself to a profoundly-changed society and strategically respond to the growing social tensions and diverse needs remains appealing. In the advanced industrialized democracies, social policy is widely adopted by government to address social issues, such as poverty, health inequality, ageing, unemployment and housing shortage. In China, social policy didn’t exist as an independent policy arena in the period of planned economy. The economic reform and openness started in the late 1970s created massive impact on social fabric and the trajectories of social welfare and social protection development.

As the process of market economy and social transition was accelerated, China has encountered a series of daunting challenge in keeping balance between economic growth and social stability. Although economic growth was seemingly kept as a rare primary source of maintaining its institutional legacy, persistent rural poverty and income gap, rural migrants and conflicting cadre-civilian relations, imbalanced health services, soaring educational inequality, declining fertility and rapid population ageing in an absence of integrative workable pension system have made the contour of modernizing its social security system unforeseeable in the context of globalization. 

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Programme details


Professor Yuegen Xiong

Xiong Yuegen is Professor and Director, The Centre for Social Policy Research (CSPR) in the Department of Sociology at Peking University, China. He is the author of Needs, Reciprocity and Shared Function: Policy and Practice of Elderly Care in Urban China (Shanghai Renmin Press, 2008) and Social Policy: Theories and Analytical Approaches (Renmin University Press, 2009).

He was the British Academy KC Wong Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford during November 2002- September 2003, the Fellow at the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study (HWK), Delmonhorst, Germany during December 2003- February 2004 and the JSPS Fellow at the University of Tokyo in October, 2005, Visiting professor at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK in October, 2017 and Visiting Professor at the Center for Modern East Asian Studies, University of Gottingen, Germany in December, 2017.

In the past years, he has published extensively in the field of social policy, comparative welfare regimes, social work, NGOs and civil society. He is the editorial member of Asian Social Work and Policy Review (Wiley), Asian Education and Development Studies (Emerald), the British Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies (UK) and International Journal of Community and Social Development (Sage). Prof. Xiong acted as the external examiner of PhD thesis evaluation for a number of universities, including The University of Hong Kong, The University of Bergen, Norway, The City University of Hong Kong. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The University of Technology Sydney, Australia and Bremen University-Jacobs University Graduate School of Social Sciences, Germany.

He was the faculty of 483rd Salzburg Global Seminar on “ Economic Growth and Social Protection in Asia” held in Austria during 7th-12th November, 2011.

Student feedback

"This is a great programme, definitely worth investing your time into." Wang Rong, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, China

 Click here to read more of our alumni testimonials.


There are no prerequisites for this course.


Assessment will be based on a mid-term essay (worth 50% of the final mark) and a final exam (worth 50% of the final mark).

Preparatory Reading List

The list below provides an indication of some of the main recommended texts for the course, but a full reading list and electronic course pack will be provided to registered students approximately six weeks before the beginning of the programme.

  • Besharov, D.  and  Baehler, K.  (eds.),  2013.  Chinese Social Policy in a Time of Transition.  Oxford University Press.
  • Blachard, J.M. and Lin, K.C.  (eds.),  Governance, Domestic Change, and Social Policy in China: 100 Years after the Xinhai Revolution.  Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Chan, C.K., Ngok, K.L. and Phillips, D. (2008). Social Policy in China –Development and well-being. The Policy Press.
  • Lieberthal, K. and Oksenberg, M.  1988.  Policy Making in China: Leaders, Structures, and Processes.  Princeton University Press.

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