Social work and sustainable rural development: The practice of social economy in China

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The impact of globalisation on local agriculture and food systems has brought issues such as food security and rural sustainability to the forefront of policy-making in developing countries. In China, the restructuring of domestic agriculture and liberalisation of trade following accession to the World Trade Organization have led to the growing reliance on imported food and raised concerns for food self-sufficiency and safety. Inspired by the concept of social economy, social workers in China have explored alternative pathways towards sustainable food production and consumption through local initiatives. Based on participatory action research in a Chinese village, this study examines the potential contribution of social work intervention in responding to China’s agrarian challenges. It is shown that by linking rural cooperatives with the local food system and allowing farmers to sell directly to urban consumers at fairer prices, social economy initiatives provide a viable pathway for sustainable transformation by empowering rural producers while giving urban consumers access to sustainably produced food.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-355
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Social Welfare
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • China
  • community practice
  • community-based participatory research
  • food insecurity
  • green economy
  • green social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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