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Volume #15, Number #2

Published in December, 2011

Social welfare is concerned with the provision of a public good. This paper is concerned with the political logic behind the provision of this public good. It uses empirical data to evaluate the functionalist view in modernization theory, the democracy promotion view in citizenship and social rights theory, and finally the more recent non-institutionalist social capital view. Each of these three theories is concerned with revealing the motivation behind the provision of social welfare. This paper uses data gathered by the 2007-2008 Asian Barometer Survey in 356 villages across China, and attempts to show that there is a positive relationship between grassroots democracy and the provision of social welfare. The exercise of rural democracy helps raise awareness of the rights of individuals, and therefore helps draw greater attention to redistribution through the mechanism of social welfare provision. The statistical results show that in villages that have had a more successful experience of grassroots democracy, the provision of social welfare has been more comprehensive. Adding the social capital variable increases the explanatory power of the whole model, but the influence of local elections remains strong, and continues to have more explanatory power than the social capital variable. Even when we control for the level of economic development, regional differences, and level of education, the influence of local democracy on rural welfare provision remains powerful.

Yu-tzung Chang, Chen-chia Wu

China’s drive toward reform and modernization over the past 30 years has not only led to rapid economic growth, but has also created new opportunities for social change. The dramatic changes and significant consequences stirred by the development of social organizations have drawn much attention to the subject. Existing studies on the state-society relationship remain largely dominated by the “State-centered approach”, in which the state will and capacity are considered to be the key interpretation variables. By contrast, the attention given to the “organizing of social forces” and “mobilization of social resources” remains limited, and inadequate attention has been directed to the influence arising from the differences between the nature of different agendas and the characteristics of social-sector actors. With the tendency to focus on state apparatuses, research on the relationship between the state and social organizations in China today has been going nowhere, and more in-depth comparative analysis is unlikely.

Theoretically, this article first of all argues that the “governance structure” and “organizational field” of social forces should be reestablished as the focus of research in contemporary China. Such research must focus on the changes in and effects of the various models, driving forces, and structures of social organizations. Secondly, it presents an empirical study of the two most active grassroots organizations in China––environmental NGOs and AIDS NGOs. Both organizations exhibit similar characteristics in certain areas, but they differ vastly in terms of action strategy, methods of mobilization, and interaction with the state. Backed up by extensive empirical investigations, this article will demonstrate such differences. Based on these, this article provides a dialogue with the foregoing empirical research to identify the potential blind spots of existing theoretical viewpoints in their analyses.

Chan-hsi Wang, Hsin-hsien Wang

China’s rapid economic growth has led to a dramatic increase in electricity demand. This is one of the reasons why hydropower is now playing a major role in China’s energy sector strategy, turning Yunnan Province with its huge hydropower reserves into a crucial power supplier for the country’s booming eastern and southern coastal regions. However, Yunnan does not only have important mineral and water resources. The province is also home to a high number of ethnic minorities mainly living in poverty. While hydropower development has the potential to improve Yunnan’s low social-economic status and ameliorate the living conditions of the local population, the environmental damage and the large scale resettling processes that are caused by hydropower development projects severely impact the lives of local communities. In order to show how these dynamics play out in the process of hydropower development in Yunnan, this article examines the evolution of hydropower development in Southwest China through the lens of James Scott’s framework for explaining tragic consequences of large-scale development schemes. While the changes that have been taking place in China’s hydropower politics are evidence of the adaptive capacity of China’s authoritarian regime, large dams with severe social and environmental implications are still being planned and constructed in China today. These development projects used to be driven by China’s central political leaders, but nowadays, much of the decision-making power rests with local governments and hydropower companies, highlighting the fragmented state of China’s policy-making.

Sabrina Habich

The core issue of cross-Strait relations lies in the debate over sovereignty. This study targets Mainland Chinese students studying in Taiwan for a short period of time as research subjects. Through questionnaires, the impact of political attitudes on the acceptance of Taiwanese sovereignty is investigated. This study’s research findings show that the acceptance of Taiwanese sovereignty by Mainland Chinese students studying in Taiwan is generally low with a mean of 1.63. Among the factors influencing the acceptance of Taiwanese sovereignty by Mainland Chinese students, favorable attitudes towards the Taiwan government, external political efficacy, and political trust are deemed to be the most important. According to this study, to protect Taiwanese sovereignty, the government should encourage more Mainland Chinese students to come to Taiwan rather than refusing them admittance. However, complementary measures should be developed to increase favorable attitudes towards the Taiwan government and to decrease external political efficacy and political trust in Mainland China’s government by Mainland Chinese students.

Chia-chou Wang

Indigenous hunting and its impact on wildlife represents one of the most critical and controversial issues in Taiwan. This study aims to investigate the interplay between governmental conservation institutions and indigenous hunting norms in an anonymous Truku area. The empirical results show that, over the long term between the 1970s and mid-2000s, socioeconomic change has played a pivotal role, and has exerted a relatively slow but significant influence on indigenous hunting norms, while governmental conservation institutions have played a minor role. In such external institutional settings, Truku hunting territory norms remain robust. However, since the mid-2000s, strict legal enforcement by governmental institutions has resulted in a more rapid decline in indigenous hunting territories. In the long run, wildlife populations have significantly recovered. At the same time, indigenous hunting activities have dramatically declined, and nowadays indigenous hunting norms are increasingly losing their influence. Finally, we discuss the normative implications of the empirical findings. We suggest that, in friendly external institutional settings, Truku hunting territory norms are quite robust. Accordingly, in cooperating with the future framework of Truku self-governance, a wildlife co-management proposal governed by both the governmental conservation institutions and Truku hunting norms may become feasible.

Hsing-sheng Tai, Wu-long Jhuang, Shyang-woei Lin