East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

Nov. 1 Workshop


Workshop on East Asia: Politics, Economy and Society Presents

“Helping People Help Themselves: Discourses on Social Work in China”
Presenter: Ling Han
Doctoral Candidate of Sociology, University of California at San Diego

4:00-5:30pm, Tuesday
Nov. 1, 2011
Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Abstract: While the emergence of social work is largely shaped by the state as a response to some set of underlying changes in the society, the professional identity typically arises out of pre-existing practices that eventually crystallizes at a specific moment in time. In this paper, I recount what “social work” means in China. Different from the existing literature on social assistance and social security in China that center on partial reflection of particular welfare programs, I focus on the shifting meanings attached to social work during institutional changes. The order of things happen and how they are conceptualized matter in reflecting on the educational curriculum-building, models of state buying social services, and the current practices by social worker. This paper presents a discourse analysis of how “social work” (shehui gongzuo) is used and conceptualized in popular discourses. Sources examined in this paper are a juxtaposition of People’s Daily, Social Work magazine, Database on the Chinese Government (National, Regional Policies, and Speeches), Chinese People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Database. This variety of sources is used as a matrix of source comparison to account for what it means by “social work” in a changing institutional context. Before 1990, scarce articles were found concerning “social work” and the amount of data is manageable. The empirical examination illuminates the conception of professionalization of social work and the role assigned to social worker in urban China.

Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/
Student coordinator: Yang Zhang (yangzhang@uchicago.edu)
Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao

The workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences and Center for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance, please contact the student coordinator in advance.

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