Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Mary Gallagher -- Year of China Social Sciences Colloquia Series

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

"Legality and Autocracy: Toward a Theory of Legal Mobilization in China," with Mary Gallagher, University of Michigan.

This talk is an analysis of the bottom-up responses to the Chinese state’s legal development project, which began in the 1980s in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. Through a focus on the construction of a legal apparatus around the regulation and administration of labor relations, Professor Gallagher argues that the Chinese state’s deliberate construction of a legal realm centered on contractual labor relations and third party dispute resolution has fostered a dynamic and varied social response. These social responses have, in turn, had substantive effects on the direction of state policy and law enforcement. Eschewing a dichotomous choice between “state-led” and “bottom-up”, IGallagher shows how legal development has empowered social actors while boosting the state’s ability to govern more flexibly and more distantly. By demonstrating the ability of some regimes to borrow political institutions associated with liberalism to sustain authoritarian rule, Professor Gallagher contributes to the debate on modern authoritarianism. 

Presented by the Year of China Social Sciences Colloquia Series: A Chinese Century? Perspectives from the Social Sciences.

Location: McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street.