Many scholars, both in China and internationally, have engaged in a series of debates on how social work can be indigenized in the Global South. In these debates, “social in-vestment” emerged as a new emerging paradigm in the vision of social workers. Advo-cates of this paradigm claim that it is a new alternative direction for social work in the pursuit of social justice. In China, in order to reverse many problems in the indigenization of social work, scholars borrowed this paradigm to advocate the government to carry out a reform of social work. This study uses the “Shuangbai” social work plan of Guangdong Province as an example to explore the potential and limitation of bringing “social invest-ment” approach into social work’s practice. Firstly, we would do a theory exploration on how the “Shuangbai” plan reforms social work practice theory by using “social invest-ment” discourse. Then, we would use the articles from the WeChat official account of the “Shuangbai” Plan as material to figure out the conditions and dilemmas of the typical path of the “Shuangbai” social assistance existing in the official discourse. We found that in China, the discourse of “social investment” offers social workers an opportunity to ob-tain larger space to practice, while such practices have little impact on the oppressive so-cial structure. Moreover, we need to consider the possibility that the community organiza-tions built by social workers through social investment will be absorbed by local authori-ties and used in social engineering unrelated to or even conflicting with social justice.

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Andrew Fischer
Social Policy for Development (SPD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Junhao Lai. (2022, December 16). A critical reflection on the “Social Investment” approach used in the Chinese Social Work Reform: a case study on the Guangdong “Shuangbai” social work plan. Social Policy for Development (SPD). Retrieved from