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The Specter of "the People"Urban Poverty in Northeast China$
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Mun Young Cho

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451652

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451652.001.0001

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On the Border between “the People” and “the Population”

On the Border between “the People” and “the Population”

(p.68) Chapter 3 On the Border between “the People” and “the Population”
The Specter of "the People"

Mun Young Cho

Cornell University Press

This chapter delves into the contestation between the poor and government officials over the management of urban poverty by focusing on the actual workings of the minimum livelihood guarantee (zuidi shenghuo baozhang zhidu), colloquially known as dibao. The dibao policy emerged in tandem with the sudden increase in laid-off urban workers, not the poor in general; nevertheless, it has introduced a new rationale which holds that poverty should be measured and calculated in numerical tables, in which these laid-off workers are reduced to numbers along with other poor people. The chapter thus argues that the practices of dibao oscillate between two modes of reasoning, or “governmentality”—that is, between being on the political stage of “the people” and being in the numerical table of “the population.”

Keywords:   dibao, dibao policy, minimum livelihood guarantee, governmentality, urban poverty, urban laid-off workers

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