Global Asia Journal


Social and Cultural Research, Occasional Paper No. 14, October 2013

    • Centre for Qualitative Social Research, Department of Sociology, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong SAR, China
  • Center for East Asian Studies, Department of History, Pace University , New York, USA

Document Type



The Chinese government has implemented a means-tested social security net for the poorest known as dibao. We compare dibao legislation from the State Council, the Shandong provincial government, and the Qingdao municipal government. As a case study, this comparative analysis of dibao legislation across different state levels and time periods provides a method to analyze differences between central and local government levels. We show that local governments are able to subvert the intentions of the central government by adding sections and altering the language in key passages. This type of horizontal and vertical reading of multiple texts reveals priorities and differences between government levels in ways that are not apparent in any single text.