Making the Social Work: toward a Functionalist View of Social Governance

  • Guodong Sun


This paper is situated in the normative discourse on the society building in China, seeks to go beyond the various ideological discourses, such as the liberal, the socialist, and neo-Confucian approaches, and develops a functionalist view of social governance. The functionalist approach maintains that the political vision is to build a Chinese-style “active society” that rises above the “under-organized society” of traditional China and the “over-organized society” of contemporary China simultaneously. An active society has three principal sociopolitical functions: inhibiting “state fetishism,” and defending the public sphere to promote the legitimation of state power; resisting “market society,” creating a market (re-)embedded in society and ensuring nonmarket supply of public goods; and rising above “the differential mode of association” (chaxu geju), accumulating social capital and nurturing civil virtues.


Active society Functionalism State Market Family 



I am grateful to the financial support from the research program of “Researches on the Practices, Theories and Institutional Innovations of Social Governance in China” (Grant No.: 17VZL006; Chief Investigator: Sujian Guo), sponsored by the National Foundation for Social Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fudan Institute for Advanced Study in Social SciencesFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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