State channelling of social grievances: Theory and evidence in China

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The rapid economic transition of China from planned to market economy in the past three decades has not only caused unprecedented changes in the structure and fabric of Chinese society but also nationwide social grievances. These grievances need channels for their unleashing and for their settlement; otherwise they may escalate into more intense, organised and widespread demands on the political system, and threaten the legitimacy of the ruling class. This paper studies the state's control and strategic utilisation of courts and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms to channel the social grievances in China. The central arguments are: (1) the Chinese regulatory style and protection systems remain largely unidirectional, ie emanate from state actors and imposed upon the citizenry, as opposed to protecting individual rights from abuse by the government and third parties; (2) the government has both the stake and capacity to oversee the manner in which disputes arise and are resolved, and court is but one of the many state-sponsored forums to channel social grievances and maintain social stability; and (3) the present trend to politicise and bureaucratise the court and ADRs is a real threat to social and political stability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-571
Number of pages25
JournalHong Kong Law Journal
Issue numberPART 2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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