In China, it kind of looks like you start out with a social score of zero. If you do nothing, it stays at zero. Grumble about life in general or the government in particular, and it drops. Unless of course the official you were complaining about happens to be on a higher ups list in which case the officials score goes down and yours goes up.
Setting the same system up here involves first setting it up in the school system where anything can be rationalized as being for the greater good and necessary to keep things orderly. By the time a kid graduates, it's the only system they've known and they know that complaining will reduce your social score.