Neoliberalisation and community development: Comparing community development services in Hong Kong and Beijing

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter offers a comparative study of neoliberalist impacts on mainstream community development services in two Chinese cities, Hong Kong and Beijing. Neoliberalist changes, as an ongoing social process, are now referred to as ‘neoliberalisation’. Adopting a process perspective, this paper compares the mediating impacts of welfare regimes and local welfare institutions (including community services, the third sector, and professional social work institutions) on neoliberalisation in Hong Kong and Beijing. By focusing on neoliberalising changes to community development services, common consequences were uncovered: a fragmentation of service provision, the responsibilitisation of the third sector, the increasing regulation of service provision, and a worsening of the working conditions of social workers. However, there are some differences: Hong Kong relies on the financial management of services while Beijing retains both service management and financial regulation, social workers receive lower pay in Beijing than in Hong Kong, and community development practice is promoted in Hong Kong but not in Beijing. The mediating role of productivist welfare regimes resulted in differences in the neoliberalisation process in the two cities, with Hong Kong featuring a ‘rolling-with’ process but Beijing having a ‘rolling-out’ process. In addition, this comparative study makes a number of theoretical contributions. By focusing on Asian cities and the mediating impact of welfare regimes, local institutions, and resistance from stakeholders, it enriches neoliberalisation theory, corrects the bias of focusing on the global North, and provides insight into real-life neoliberalism in cities. It responds to the call for investigation of real-life capitalist societies, rather than a purely theoretical derivation of neoliberalist impacts. Finally, this study has attempted to bridge the theory of welfare regimes, institutionalism, and neoliberalisation to facilitate the cross-fertilisaton of different research schools.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAsia and China in the Global Era
EditorsAdrian J. Bailey, Ricardo K. S. Mak
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781501505591
ISBN (Print)9781501514890
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameSocial and Cultural Changes in China [SCCC]
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISSN (Print)2625-5987
ISSN (Electronic)2625-5995


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