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Legal Reform and Administrative Detention Powers in China


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Part of Cambridge Studies in Law and Society

  • Date Published: July 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107405943

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About the Authors
  • Using a conceptual framework, this 2007 book examines the processes of legal reform in post-socialist countries such as China. Drawing on Bourdieu's concept of the 'field', the increasingly complex and contested processes of legal reform are analysed in relation to police powers. The impact of China's post-1978 legal reforms on police powers is examined through a detailed analysis of three administrative detention powers: detention for education of prostitutes; coercive drug rehabilitation; and re-education through labour. The debate surrounding the abolition in 1996 of detention for investigation (also known as shelter and investigation) is also considered. Despite over 20 years of legal reform, police powers remain poorly defined by law and subject to minimal legal constraint. They continue to be seriously and systematically abused. However, there has been both systematic and occasionally dramatic reform of these powers. This book considers the processes which have made these legal changes possible.

    • Subject matter analysed from legal, historical and policy perspectives, enabling the study of law reform to be contextualised within the surrounding social order and policy imperatives of the Chinese state and the Chinese police in particular
    • Grounded theoretical work which brings together strong empirical work with a new analytical approach to interpreting and understanding the subject matter under examination
    • The subject matter draws on Chinese language materials that are not available in English and are difficult to access even in Chinese, thus bringing novel materials to an English readership
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    • Winner of the 2011 Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this 484-page masterpiece leaves the reader in awe. It was not only time but also firm resolution that were required in massive doses to obtain the documentary sources on which this book is based. Besides almost no other work on detention in China has reached the same level of scholarly and intellectual rigour. This book has made an enduring contribution to our knowledge of one of the most important, yet least known sectors of Chinese law. This is essential reading for scholars of Chinese law, contemporary China, NGO personnel, teachers and sociologists of law.' China Information

    'Biddulph adopts a fresh approach to administrative detention. … The information and its analysis significantly enlarge our knowledge of the areas of detention, police studies and China's legal and political transition. … the book brings really significant empirical and methodological contributions to the study of China's legal, social, historical and political development. Readers interested in methodological considerations may find the introductory and conclusion chapters particularly revealing, and experts in China's law, police and detention studies will find a number of illuminating insights in the substantive chapters of this rigorous and remarkable book.' The China Quarterly

    'Biddulph has made a useful contribution to comprehending the complexity of the problems that face both law reformers and the wielders of the powers that they would constrain.' The China Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107405943
    • length: 504 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 29 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction and Conceptual Framework:
    1. The problems of legal reform of police administrative detention powers
    2. The legal field and the process of legal reform since 1978
    Part II. Social Order and Administrative Detention:
    3. Historical antecedents: the 1950s and administrative detention
    4. Social order, the 'hard strike' and administrative detention powers
    5. Revival of administrative detention in the reform era: prostitutes and drug addicts
    6. Re-education through labour
    Part III. Legal Reform and its Impact on Administrative Detention:
    7. Building a legal environment for police detention
    8. Supervision of police conduct: legalisation and contest
    9. Legal reform catches up with administrative detention
    Part IV. Analysis and Conclusion:
    10. The field of law, the force of law and the powers that be.

  • Author

    Sarah Biddulph, University of Melbourne


    • Winner of the 2011 Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences

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