Delivering services in China’s fragmented local state: The procurement of social work NGOs in Guangzhou

Samson YUEN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Local states in China are increasingly active in delivering social services through formal collaborations with NGOs. However, existing studies tend to treat the local state as a unitary actor, concealing how the dynamics of its different institutional layers shape NGO behavior. Focusing on the government procurement of social work NGOs in Guangzhou through case studies, this article analyzes how different local state institutions in the administrative hierarchy influence NGOs through disparate policy imperatives. While Street Offices consider NGOs as “administrative arms,” the municipal government aims to cultivate their professional capacity for invigorating community services. Although NGOs manipulate such dynamics to prolong survival, these strategies in turn embed them in the local state and shape them into acquiescent service providers. The findings suggest that China’s top-down community governance reforms through NGOs is circumscribed by misaligned policy objectives and wide demographic variation across neighborhoods. They also caution us from seeing stateNGO collaborations as a sign of an expanding civil society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-188
Number of pages30
JournalChina Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies


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