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From Iron Rice Bowl to InformalizationMarkets, Workers, and the State in a Changing China$
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Sarosh Kuruvilla, Ching Kwan Lee, and Mary E. Gallagher

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450242

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450242.001.0001

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Social Policy and Public Opinion in an Age of Insecurity

Social Policy and Public Opinion in an Age of Insecurity

(p.61) Chapter 4 Social Policy and Public Opinion in an Age of Insecurity
From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization

Mark W. Frazier

Cornell University Press

This chapter uses public opinion data to examine how urban workers understand social policies and how they perceive the Chinese state and its agents in offering protection from various risks in a market economy. The discussion focuses on pensions, which became the primary compensation offered by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) after mass layoffs in the 1990s. It is shown that the attitudes of urban workers are in part a legacy of state socialism, but the demands on the Chinese state to provide pensions and other social welfare measures also stem from workers' experience in a highly competitive and insecure market environment. Urban workers seem to accept the principles of market allocation of labor. Although such market hegemony is met with a degree of resignation or acceptance, workers also demand that the Chinese government provide them with a measure of protection from the risks that they face in the labor market.

Keywords:   urban workers, social policy, pensions, labor market, labor policy, social welfare

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