Scholars of Western democracies have amply demonstrated the path-dependent nature of social policies. Once introduced, new policies create groups with powerful incentives to defend social policies from fundamental changes, while outsiders focus their demands on inclusion into existing policies. Fundamental policy re-design, let alone revocation and replacement, becomes politically infeasible. This talk examines social and labor policies in cases where we might expect them to be most amenable to fundamental changes: post-revolutionary Shanghai and post-colonial Bombay. While both regimes made deep commitments to socialist transformation, housing and labor policies were more incremental than transformative. Using the concept of “social citizenship,” this talk explores how social policy changes favoring labor market “insiders” over the urban poor. The policies enacted during the mid-20th century exerted a powerful influence on the way that social policies were developed to address the disruptions of liberalization and globalization in the late 20th century.
About the Speaker
Mark W. Frazier is Professor of Politics at The New School for Social Research and Academic Director of the India China Institute at The New School (New York City). His research interests focus on labor and social policy in China, and more recently on political conflict over urbanization, migration, and citizenship in China and India. His forthcoming book, The Power of Place: Contentious Politics in Twentieth Century Shanghai and Bombay (Cambridge University Press, 2019) examines long-term changes in political geographies and patterns of popular protest in the two cities. He is also the author of Socialist Insecurity: Pensions and the Politics of Uneven Development in China (Cornell University Press, 2010) and The Making of the Chinese Industrial Workplace (Cambridge University Press, 2002). He is also Co-Editor of the SAGE Handbook of Contemporary China (SAGE Publications, 2018). He has authored op-ed pieces and essays for The New York Times, Daedalus, and The Diplomat. Frazier serves on the editorial board of China Quarterly and is a Faculty Associate at the Columbia University’s China Center for Social Policy. He has been a Public Intellectuals Program fellow at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations since 2005. Before assuming his current position at The New School in 2012, he held a chaired professorship in Chinese Politics at the University of Oklahoma and was the Luce Assistant Professor in the Political Economy of East Asia at Lawrence University, a liberal arts college in Wisconsin.
This lecture is part of the 2019-2020 annual lecture series on "Using Scientific Evidence to Address Social Challenges in China" cosponsored by the Columbia China Center for Social Policy and Weatherhead East Asian Institute and supported by the Columbia School of Social Work.