Homelessness and the Universal Family in China
Huili He, ZHiHao Su, JianJun ZHao, YiHui Pang, and ZHiHe Wang
Corresponding authors: JianJun ZHao, e-mail: adad390@163. com
The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol.79, No2, 2020
Abstract: Depending on how one defines homelessness, China has either a very tiny homeless population or an extremely large one. Compared to other countries, there very few vagrants: people living on the streets of China’s cities without means of support. But if one counts the people who migrated to cities without a legal permit (hukou), work as day laborers without job security or a company dormitory, and live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions on the edge of cities, there are nearly 300 million homeless. Free market fundamentalism is responsible for the emergence of this sort of homelessness in China. We review China’s recent new policies to tackle homelessness and offer suggestions based on the traditional Chinese wisdom, which includes the concept of the universal family (family - tian xia). Homelessness in China must be addressed as a cultural problem caused by the breakdown of ancient methods of social integration. Treating it merely as a housing deficit will fail.
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