The Research Topic

This comparative research project looks at the co-operation between state and social organizations (SOs) in China and Germany. It focusses on social service delivery in the area of integration of migrating populations with special attention to the fields of education, employment, vulnurable groups and social assistance (incl. legal aid) as a cross-cutting issue to all of the fields. Within this subject area the project wants to identify different models of state-SO co-operation and analyse which models are successful and why and where this co-operation is problematic.

As regards content, social policy, social service delivery, and state-society relations and the policy field migration in China and Germany form the foundations of the research topic.

Social policy, social service delivery, and state-society relations

In China, the side effects of the economic development have led to a widening gap between rural and urban areas and between rich and poor. There are large numbers of floating populations from rural areas to cities and at the same time an insufficient social security system hampered by the household registration (hukou) system.
It is clear that the local government‘s capability to provide social services cannot meet the society‘s needs. Therefore, government procurement of services from SOs evolves as one important form of co-operation between state and SOs and a strengthened support for SOs by the government evolves. In line with this development, there is a rapidly growing number of SOs since 1978 (50 thousand per year since 2013).

In Germany, a key characteristic of social service provision is the welfare-mix, which encompasses government entities, private enterprises and SOs or non-profit providers. Traditionally, the relationship between SOs and local governments is based on a model of partnership and close co-operation. German SOs do not perceive themselves per se as „countervailing power“ vis-à-vis the government, they are rather a privileged group of service and idea providers for the state.
Today, SOs are confronted with a changed environment in which competition for funds and human resources has become common procedure. The environment of social service provision is currently changing significantly in Germany and the government is increasingly fostering citizen engagement in social service provision.

The Policy Field Migration

In China in the mid-2000s for the first time policies were implemented that eased rural labor mobility and provided service for rural migrants. Since then the number of rural migrants reached a peak (120 million, families not included). Most rural workers come from central China and move towards east China. The largest receiving province is Guangdong (about 34 million employed rural migrant workers = 44% of the current population in the province).
When moving to the cities rural migrant workers face discrimination and many problems. In urban societies they are socially regarded as “second class” and they face challenges like low income, income insecurity, long working hours and work safety problems, poor living conditions, insufficient social insurance and problems with the schooling of their children.

In Germany in the early 2010s a new phase of migration into the country began and reached a new quality in the current so-called refugee crisis. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany guarantees political refugees and asylum seekers unlimited access to the country, which means that cities and communities have to make up with the continuous immigration of refugees (also many families and unaccompanied children). The integration of the refugees into German communities is perceived as a huge challenge. Local governments primarily try to provide shelter and housing for the refugees but social organizations are heavily involved in the various policy measures that aim at facilitating the integration into German society.

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