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Environmental Litigation in China
A Study in Political Ambivalence

$119.00 (C)

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Law and Society

  • Date Published: March 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107020023

$ 119.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • This is a book about the improbable: seeking legal relief for pollution in contemporary China. In a country known for tight political control and ineffectual courts, Environmental Litigation in China unravels how everyday justice works: how judges make decisions, why lawyers take cases, and how international influence matters. It is a readable account of how the leadership's mixed signals and political ambivalence play out on the ground – propelling some, such as the village doctor who fought a chemical plant for more than a decade, even as others back away from risk. Yet this remarkable book shows that even in a country where expectations would be that law wouldn't much matter, environmental litigation provides a sliver of space for legal professionals to explore new roles and, in so doing, probe the boundary of what is politically possible.

    • Draws on sixteen months of field research, including four case studies and over 160 interviews
    • Highly interdisciplinary, drawing on relevant literature from across the social sciences (political science, sociology, law, anthropology)
    • Avoids jargon and is accessible to a wide audience
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    • Honourable Mention, 2014 Herbert Jacob Book Award, Law and Society Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "[This] book is perhaps the most significant contribution to the pantheon of books on China’s legal development published in the past ten years. [Thorough] on the ground research, including review[s] of hundreds of legal cases, interviews with lawyers, judges, government officials and average citizens, Environmental Litigation in China is not some theoretical analysis of the law. Rather it provides a concrete example of law in action in China … a great book and an important study."
    China Law and Policy

    "In addition to the thoughtful narrative choices she makes (the book is replete with vivid anecdotes and examples), Stern writes in an extremely approachable manner. Her prose is precise, yet extremely engaging. She admirably avoids jargon. This makes Environmental Litigation in China far more accessible than most books on Chinese law. It will not only be stimulating for graduate students, but appropriate for upper-level undergraduates as well. It will appeal equally to legal scholars, China watchers in academic and in policy circles, and to those interested in law and society more generally."
    Andrew Mertha, Cornell University, The China Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107020023
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 6 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Post-Mao: economic growth, environmental protection, and the law
    2. From dispute to decision
    3. Frontiers of environmental law
    4. Political ambivalence: the state
    5. On the front lines: the judges
    6. Heroes or troublemakers? The lawyers
    7. Soft support: the international NGOs
    8. Thinking about outcomes.

  • Author

    Rachel E. Stern, University of California, Berkeley
    Rachel Stern is an Assistant Professor of Law and Political Science in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at the University of California, Berkeley. Her articles on law, social activism and environmental issues in China and Hong Kong have appeared in Comparative Political Studies, Law and Policy, China Quarterly and other journals. She is a former Junior Fellow at the Harvard University Society of Fellows.


    • Honourable Mention, 2014 Herbert Jacob Book Award, Law and Society Association

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