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Street as Courtroom: State Accommodation of Labor Protest in South China

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Abstract:

Drawing on data collected from district-level governments, this article studies how the Chinese state responds to labor protests in South China. It examines both the internal logic and operational patterns of the state response involving the local courts and an assortment of government agencies. Internal documents and interviews reveal an emerging mode of state reaction. In the context of protest, the courts and related government agencies engage protesters on the street, which often grants a favorable resolution. This “street as courtroom” is a result of the weak capacity of the legal system coupled with a government-wide campaign to build a “harmonious society.” These findings compel researchers to reconsider the institutional boundaries of the prototypical court, the outcome of social protest, and the appropriate role of the courts in China.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5893.2010.00399.x

Affiliations: 1: University of California, Irvine. 2: School of Law, City University of Hong Kong

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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