Social Governance vs. Social Management:Towards a New Regulatory Role for Social Organizations in China?
Abstract: On November 12th, 2013 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of People’s Republic of China approved the “Decision of the CCCP on Some Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening the Reform”. The document – the first major policy statement of President Xi Jinping’s new administration – has been well received for its calls for greater liberalization of the economy and greater governance role for the market, private sector and non state-actors, including social organizations. The most important signal of this new (and more positive) attitude towards NGOs seems to be a lexical one: in official discourse, the expression “shehui guanli” (社会管理，social management) has been substituted by “shehui zhili” (社会治理, social governance) a notion which recognizes social actors’ role in governance, alongside government and businesses. Concretely, what will this change mean for NGOs and their taking part to the regulatory process? And how will the role and responsibility of government(s) and social organizations be clarified and enforced, at the central and local level? In this paper, I will analyze the impact of this new way of understanding the relationship, concerning social organization, between State and society, taking into account the ways by which the relationship between state and non-state actors has been shaped in the past few years. I will concentrate, especially, on the experiments that have been going on at a local level, and on the rise (and decline?) of NGOs potential influence on the regulatory process through legal actions, using “public interest litigation”