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Authoritarian Legality in China
Law, Workers, and the State

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  • Date Published: September 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107444485

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About the Authors
  • Can authoritarian regimes use democratic institutions to strengthen and solidify their rule? The Chinese government has legislated some of the most protective workplace laws in the world and opened up the judicial system to adjudicate workplace conflict, emboldening China's workers to use these laws. This book examines these patterns of legal mobilization, showing which workers are likely to avail themselves of these new protections and find them effective. Gallagher finds that workers with high levels of education are far more likely to claim these new rights and be satisfied with the results. However, many others, left disappointed with the large gap between law on the books and law in reality, reject the courtroom for the streets. Using workers' narratives, surveys, and case studies of protests, Gallagher argues that China's half-hearted attempt at rule of law construction undermines the stability of authoritarian rule. New workplace rights fuel workers' rising expectations, but a dysfunctional legal system drives many workers to more extreme options, including strikes, demonstrations and violence.

    • Explains the current state of Chinese labor and employment law
    • Uses narratives and in-depth interviews with aggrieved workers
    • Uses survey research to extend the generalizability of the findings
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    • Honourable mention, 2018 Distinguished Book Award, Asian Law and Society Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Drawing upon abundant narratives and surveys, Gallagher offers a groundbreaking take on the complex dynamics between the Chinese state and workers. Her vivid account forcefully challenges the conventional theories about authoritarian legality and discloses the intertwined relationship between workers’ rights mobilization, economic development, local governance, and the changing demographic structure in rural and urban areas.' Weiting Guo, Pacific Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107444485
    • dimensions: 227 x 151 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Authoritarian legality at work: workplace reform and China's urbanization
    2. A theory of authoritarian legality
    3. Fire alarms and fire fighters: institutional reforms legal mobilization at the Chinese workplace
    4. By the book: legal mobilization as an educative process
    5. Great expectations: the disparate effects of legal mobilization
    6. The limits of authoritarian legality
    7. Epilogue: requiem for the labor contract law?

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    Authoritarian Legality in China

    Mary E. Gallagher

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  • Author

    Mary E. Gallagher, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Mary Gallagher is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she is also the Director of the Kenneth G. Lieberthal and Richard H. Rogel Center for Chinese Studies. She was a Fulbright Research Scholar from 2003 to 2004 at East China University of Politics and Law, Shanghai, and in 2012–13, she was a Visiting Professor at the Koguan School of Law, Shanghai Jiaotong University. She is also the author or editor of several books, including Chinese Justice: Civil Dispute Resolution in Contemporary China (with Margaret Y. K. Woo, Cambridge, 2011) and Contemporary Chinese Politics: New Sources, Methods, and Field Strategies (with Allen Carlson, Kenneth Lieberthal and Melanie Manion, Cambridge, 2010).


    • Honourable mention, 2018 Distinguished Book Award, Asian Law and Society Association

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