Better to Rely on Ourselves

Changing Social Rights in Urban China since 1979

by Hatla Thelle

  • Published:
  • Pages: 367 pp.
  • Series number: 97
Available from NIAS Press worldwide

This study analyses changes in the protection of social rights in China since 1979 for the middle-income level of the urban population, based on family interviews and documentary studies. It tells how conditions for employment, housing, social security and education have undergone a complete transformation as a consequence of the transition to a market economy.

This study analyses changes in the protection of social rights in China since 1979 for the middle-income level of the urban population, based on family interviews and documentary studies. It tells how conditions for employment, housing, social security and education have undergone a complete transformation as a consequence of the transition to a market economy.

While the individual citizen has benefited from more freedom of choice and movement, there is less stable protection of the right to work, health care, housing and education. Moreover, channels of popular participation in the decision-making process remain fragile and knowledge of complaints mechanisms and legal remedies is poor.

author image not supplied

Hatla Thelle is a China specialist, and a researcher and project manager at the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen.  Since 2006 she has been head of the China Unit.

Hatla Thelle is a China specialist, and a researcher and project manager at the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen.  Since 2006 she has been head of the China Unit.

Thelle’s main research interests include modern Chinese society and politics, social rights, gender studies, and law reform in countries in transition.  She is currently researching the establishment of a legal aid system in China.

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by Friederike Fleischer
From journal:
The China Journal, no. 56

“Thelle’s book is a well-researched and readable study containing valuable information on the dynamic of Chinese citizens’ situation… It will be of interest to students not only of human right

“Thelle’s book is a well-researched and readable study containing valuable information on the dynamic of Chinese citizens’ situation… It will be of interest to students not only of human rights but also of Chinese society and economy generally.”

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