Face funds: Political maneuvers around nonstate welfare in rural China

Tom Cliff*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    In semi-industrialized rural China, villagers are getting together to create their own micro welfare state. In response to inadequate state support for the poor, disabled, and especially elderly of the village, entrepreneurs form rotating credit associations and underground banks that finance welfare schemes exclusively for those who hold a household residency (hukou) in their village. Most of these schemes eschew any formal engagement with the state, but where money, legitimacy, and social stability are involved, the state is never far away. This paper examines the development and propagation of these highly successful nonstate welfare funds in parallel to the seminally unsuccessful state eff orts at encouraging philanthropy, and reports on recent state eff orts to co-opt and control this flourishing, indirectly contentious, civil movement. The fairly gentle nature of state-society interactions to date shrouds an implicit contest over political space at the grassroots level.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)151-178
    Number of pages28
    JournalChina Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    Dive into the research topics of 'Face funds: Political maneuvers around nonstate welfare in rural China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this