Grassroots NGO Regulations and China's Local Legal Culture
Law-lauding ideology and rhetoric has been increasingly evident in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. In conjunction with decades of rapid and prolific legal institution-building, this has provided rich data for scholarship on the trajectory of China’s legal system, and the nature of rule and order in modern Chinese society. Yet a solely law-centric approach to state regulation is not apposite to painting a complete picture of how order is maintained in the distinctly non-legal Chinese culture. Drawing on fieldwork investigating non-state Chinese orphanages, I argue that the survival and proliferation of such quasi- or non-legal grassroots non-government organizations is indicative of, and premised on, both the unwieldy and fragmented nature of the Chinese state, and several defining points of distinction of law as a cultural notion in the Chinese context. These include a marked preoccupation with legitimacy over legality, and paternalistic discipline and discretion over impartial adjudication. An increased appreciation for China’s local legal culture has far-reaching implications for the ways in which both legal academics and practitioners engage with the Chinese legal system, which is best approached without constraining preconceptions about how law is used and regarded in local contexts.
Publisher: National Law School of India University
Keywords: NGOs; Not-for-profit law; Orphanages; China
Research Type: Journal Article