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Society & Culture

Services for Social Cohesion

Jun 18, 2011
  • Wang Yukai

    Professor, China National School of Administration

People-centered governance needs coordinated efforts from the Party, government, society and the public

Ever since the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held a seminar on social management for ministerial officials in February, social management has become a central issue at all levels of administration in China. It was also listed in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) of some local governments including Beijing.

Moreover, at the end of May, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China also held a special meeting on strengthening social management, pointing out its importance to China in the coming years. The meeting highlighted the fact that the task of social management is very difficult because China is in an era of both strategic opportunities and social transformations.

Without doubt social management is an indispensable part of China's future development. However, talking about this issue, we must have a clear answer to some important questions: What is social management, and what are its relations with social construction and social services? What are the most urgent problems in social management we face today? How can we make social management more effective?

In my opinion, social management refers to all government management and services in public fields other than economics, politics and culture. As an important part of the social construct, social management seeks to promote the orderly development of society by coordinating various interests and resolving social conflicts.

Social management is essentially a people-centered concept that can be best realized through providing proper social services. The government plays an important role and shoulders a strong responsibility in social management and services.

But of course, the government is not the only body offering such services. Along with the development of a market economy, social organizations and the public are playing an increasingly more important role in the process. That's also why the Party emphasized the coordination of the Party, the government, society and the public in its plan for social management, as all four parts are essential and indispensable.

Currently there are two urgent problems for social management in China. First, with dramatic changes in social wealth distribution, it is increasingly difficult to coordinate different interests. The widening income gaps between urban and rural people, the rich and the poor, and different professions have led to an increase in mass disturbances and threats to social stability.

Second, moral degradation is threatening basic social order, as shown in the prevalent malpractices in market operations and food and drug safety issues. To improve our social management, it is necessary to restore basic order to society.

To cope with these problems, the government is making efforts to strengthen social management, such as improving the general social management pattern, developing mechanisms to defend the people's rights, investing more on services for migrant workers and people with special needs, promoting public safety, offering more support to social organizations, regulating the Internet and restoring morality.

In implementing these arrangements, I personally think we should insist on the basic principle of "people first", which is the initial logic behind scientific development, and realize better social management through the provision of better social services. The social services we provide will directly determine the result of social management. It is through the services they receive that the people decide whether the government has done enough.

The people are the core issue and the ultimate end of all development, whether economic, political or cultural, and social management is no exception to this. The most direct implementation and expression of that principle is the government using all efforts to defend the rights and interests of the people.

To that end, we can also strengthen the role of social organizations, and encourage public participation in the process of social management. That would not only bring fresh life to social services, but also expand the space for government to buy services for society, thus forming a better general pattern for society.

Wang Yukai is a professor from China National School of Administration

Source: China Daily

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