Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Social Life of Regulation in Taipei City Hall: The Role of Legality in the Administrative Bureaucracy

  • Anya Bernstein


This article explores the role of legality in conceptions of state and society among bureaucrats in the Taipei, Taiwan city government. When administrators confront the global arena, the existence of law emblematizes modernity and the ability to participate in the international system. In interactions among administrators, law is laden with impossible ideals and fraught with assumptions of hypocrisy. In dealings with people outside the government, legality often signals the breakdown of other, more valuable social norms. Far from legitimating administrative action, legality itself is legitimated by reference to the same values as other social action: it is held up to an ideal of consensus and cultural coherence and judged by its ability to fulfill obligations and nurture relationships. Law does not hegemonically structure administrators’ conceptions of state and society. Rather, it defines one aspect of governance at the margins of legitimacy, dependent on justification through other ethical norms.



Hide All
Albrow, Martin. 1970. Bureaucracy. New York: Praeger Publishers.
Allen, Joseph. 2000. Reading Taipei: Cultural Traces in a Cityscape. Harvard Studies on Taiwan: Papers of the Taiwan Studies Workshop 3:123.
Allen, Joseph. 2005. Mapping Taipei: Representation and Ideology, 1626–1945. Studies on Asia Series III 2 (2): 5980.
Amsden, Alice. 1985. The State and Taiwan's Economic Development. In Bringing the State Back In, ed. Peter, B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Arendt, Hannah. 1959. The Human Condition: A Study of the Central Dilemmas Facing Modern Man. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor.
Bernstein, Anya. 2007. Why “Taiwan is Too Democratic”: Legitimation, Administration, and Political Participation in Taipei. PhD diss., Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Bishai, Martha Fitzpatrick. 1991. The Development of Industrial Land in Taiwan: A Legal Framework for State Control. Journal of Developing Areas 26:5364.
Blau, Peter M. 1963. The Dynamics of Bureaucracy: A Study of Interpersonal Relations in Two Government Agencies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bosco, Joseph. 1992. Taiwan Factions: Guanxi, Patronage, and the State in Local Politics. Ethnology 31 (2): 157–84.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1995. Rites of Institution. In Language and Symbolic Power, ed. Thompson, John B. Trans. Raymond, Gino and Adamson, Matthew, 117–26. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Brubaker, Rogers. 1996. Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Burchell, Graham, Colin, Gordon, and Peter, Miller, eds. 1991. The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Chang, Han‐Yu, and Ramon, H. Myers. 1963. Japanese Colonial Development Policy in Taiwan, 1895–1906: A Case of Bureaucratic Entrepreneurship. Journal of Asian Studies 22 (4): 433–49.
Chang, Ly‐Yun, Lu, Yu‐Hsia, and Wang, Fu‐Chang, eds. 1997.[Taiwanese Society in the 1990s: Taiwan Social Change Survey Symposium Series 2 (Part 1)]. Taipei:[The Preparatory Office of the Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica].
Chang, Mau‐kuei. 1994. Toward an Understanding of the Sheng‐Chi Wen‐Ti in Taiwan: Focusing on Changes After Political Liberalization. In Ethnicity in Taiwan: Social, Historical, and Cultural Perspectives, ed. Chen, Chung‐min, Chuang, Ying‐chang, and Huang, Shu‐min, 93150. Taipei: Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica.
Chao, Linda, and Ramon, H. Meyers. 1998. The First Chinese Democracy: Political Life in the Republic of China. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Chen, Albert H. Y. 1999. Towards a Legal Enlightenment: Discussion in Contemporary China on the Rule of Law. Pacific Basin Law Journal 17:125–65.
Cohn, Bernard, ed. 1987. The Census, Social Structure, and Objectification in South Asia. In An Anthropologist Among the Historians and Other Essays, 224–54. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.
Comaroff, John, and Comaroff, Jean. 1992. Ethnography and the Historical Imagination. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Corcuff, Stephane. 2000. Taiwan's “Maindlanders”: A New Ethnic Category. China Perspectives 28:7181.
Corcuff, Stephane. ed. 2002. Memories of the Future: National Identity Issues and the Search for a New Taiwan. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
Cumings, Bruce. 1984. The Origins and Development of the Northeast Asian Political Economy: Industrial Sectors, Product Cycles and Political Consequences. International Organization 38 (1): 140.
Du Gay, Paul. 2000. In Praise of Bureaucracy: Weber, Organization, Ethics. London: Sage.
Duara, Prasenjit. 1988. Superscribing Symbols: The Myth of Guandi, Chinese God of War. Journal of Asian Studies 47 (4): 778–95.
Errington, Joseph. 1995. State Speech for Peripheral Publics in Java. Pragmatics 5 (2): 213–24.
Eskildsen, Robert. 2005. Taiwan: A Periphery in Search of a Narrative. Journal of Asian Studies 64 (2): 281–94.
Espeland, Wendy Nelson. 1998. The Struggle for Water: Politics, Rationality, and Identity in the American Southwest. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Feldman, Eric A. 2000. The Ritual of Rights in Japan: Law, Society, and Health Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Foucault, Michel. 1977. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Trans. Sheridan, Alan. New York: Vintage.
Foucault, Michel. 1980. Two Lectures. In Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977, ed. Gordon, Colin, 78108. New York: Pantheon.
Foucault, Michel. 1991. Governmentality. In The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, ed. Gordon, Colin, Burchell, Graham, and Miller, Peter, 87104. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Gal, Susan. 1991. Bartok's Funeral: Representations of Europe in Hungarian Political Rhetoric. American Ethnologist 18:440–58.
Gladney, Dru C. 1993. Representing Nationality in China: Refiguring Majority/Minority Identities. Journal of Asian Studies 53 (1): 92123.
Gold, Thomas B. 1986. State and Society in the Taiwan Miracle. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
Hacking, Ian. 1990. The Taming of Chance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hacking, Ian. 1991. How Should We Do the History of Statistics? In The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, ed. Gordon, Colin, Burchell, Graham, and Miller, Peter, 181–96. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hacking, Ian. 1999. Making Up People. In The Science Studies Reader, ed. Biagioli, Mario. New York and London: Routledge.
Handelman, Don. 2004. Nationalism and the Israeli State: Bureaucratic Logic in Public Events. Oxford: Berg.
Hansen, Thomas Blom. 2001. Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial Bombay. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Herzfeld, Michael. 1992. The Social Production of Indifference: Exploring the Symbolic Roots of Western Bureaucracy. New York: Berg.
Ho, Samuel P. S. 1968. Agricultural Transformation under Colonialism: The Case of Taiwan. Journal of Economic History 28 (3): 313–40.
Ho, Samuel P. S. 1971. The Development of Japanese Colonial Government in Taiwan, 1895–1945. In Government and Economic Development, ed. Ranis, Gustaf, 287328. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Ho, Samuel P. S. 1978. Economic Development of Taiwan, 1860–1970. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Ho, Samuel P. S. 1987. Economics, Economic Bureaucracy and Taiwan's Economic Development. Pacific Affairs 20:226–47.
Honig, Bonnie. 1993. Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Huang, Wuda. 1998. Rizhishidai (1895–1945) Taibeishi Zhi Jindai Dushijihua(1895–1945)[Contemporary Taipei City Planning in Japanese Colonial Age (1895–1945).][Banchiao City]:[Taiwan Urban History Research Center].
Huang, Yuyuan. 1983. Taibeishi Fazhanshi. [Taipei Urban Development History]. Taipei:[Taipei City Historical Records Committee].
Hull, Matthew S. 2003. Paper Travails: Bureaucracy, Graphic Artifacts, and the Built Environment in the Islamabad Metropolitan Area, 1959–1998. PhD diss., Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, Chicago IL.
Hwang, Jau‐yuan. 1995. Constitutional Change and Political Transition in Taiwan since 1986—The Role of Legal Institutions. SJD diss., Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA.
Jacobs, Lesley A. 2007. Rights and Quarantine during the SARS Global Health Crisis: Differentiated Legal Consciousness in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Toronto. Law & Society Review 41:511–50.
Johnson, Marshall. 1992. Classification, Power, and Markets: The Waning of the Ethnic Division of Labor. In Taiwan: Beyond the Economic Miracle, ed. Simon, Denis Fred and Kau, Michael Y. M., 69100. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
Ka, Chih‐ming. 1995. Japanese Colonialism in Taiwan: Land Tenure, Development, and Dependency, 1895–1945. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Keller, Perry. 1994. Sources of Order in Chinese Law. American Journal of Comparative Law 42:711–59.
Kennedy, Brian L., and Chun‐Ling, Shen. 2005. The Best of Times and the Worst of Times; Criminal Law Reform in Taiwan. American Journal of Chinese Studies 12 (2): 107–37.
Kirby, William C. 1984. Germany and Republican China. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
Kirby, William C. 1990. Continuity and Change in Modern China: Economic Planning on the Mainland and on Taiwan, 1943–1958. Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 24:121–41.
Kuo, Cheng‐tian. 2000. Taiwan's Distorted Democracy in Comparative Perspective. Journal of Asian and African Studies 35 (1): 85111.
Lee, Young‐ho ( Yi, Yeong‐ho). 2004. Colonial Modernity and the Investigation of Land Customs: A Comparison of Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. Korea Journal 44 (2): 149–73.
Lerman, Arthur. 1978. Taiwan's Politics: The Provincial Assemblyman's World. Washington, DC: University Press of America.
Macaulay, Stewart. 2005. The New Versus the Old Legal Realism: “Things Ain't What They Used to Be.” Wisconsin Law Review 2005: 365403.
Martin, Jeffrey. 2007. A Reasonable Balance of Law and Sentiment: Social Order in Democratic Taiwan from the Policeman's Point of View. Law & Society Review 41 (3): 665–98.
McCormick, John P. 1997. Carl Schmitt's Critique of Liberalism: Against Politics as Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Myers, Ramon H., and Mark, R. Peattie, eds. 1984. The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895–1945. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Phillips, Steven E. 2003. Between Assimilation and Independence: The Taiwanese Encounter With Nationalist China, 1945–1950. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Pitkin, Hannah Fenichel. 1998. The Attack of the Blob: Hannah Arendt's Concept of the Social. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rigger, Shelley. 1999. Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy. London: Routledge.
Rigger, Shelley. 2000. Is Taiwan Independence Passé? Public Opinion, Party Platforms and National Identity in Taiwan. Harvard Studies on Taiwan: Papers of the Taiwan Studies Workshop 3 (3): 151–70.
Rigger, Shelley. 2001. From Opposition to Power: Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
Rigger, Shelley. 2006. Taiwan's Rising Rationalism: Generations, Politics and “Taiwanese Nationalism.” Washington, DC: East‐West Center Press.
Sahlins, Marshall. 1999. Two or Three Things I Know About Culture. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 5 (3): 399421.
Schmitt, Carl. 1985a. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. Trans. Schwab, George. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Schmitt, Carl. 1985b. The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy. Trans. Kennedy, Ellen. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Schmitt, Carl. 2004. Legality and Legitimacy. Trans. Seitzer, Jeffrey. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press.
Silbey, Susan S. 2005. After Legal Consciousness. Annual Review of Law and Social Science 1:323–68.
Tan, Qingshan. 2000. Democratization and Bureaucratic Restructuring in Taiwan. Studies in Comparative International Development 35 (2): 4864.
Taylor, Jay. 2000. The Generalissimo's Son: Chiang Ching‐Kuo and the Revolutions in China and Taiwan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Tien, Hung‐mao. 1989. The Great Transformation: Political and Social Change in the Republic of China. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press.
Ts'ai, Hui‐Yu Caroline. 2006. Shaping Administration in Colonial Taiwan, 1895–1945. In Taiwan Under Japanese Colonial Rule: 1895–1945, ed. Liao, Ping‐Hui and Wang, David Der‐Wei, 97121. New York: Columbia University Press.
Valverde, Mariana. 2003. Which Side Are You On? Uses of the Everyday in Sociolegal Scholarship. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 26 (1): 8698.
Wang, Horng‐luen. 2004. National Culture and its Discontents: The Politics of Heritage and Language in Taiwan, 1949–2003. Comparative Studies in Society and History 46 (4): 786815.
Wang, Tay‐sheng. 2000. Legal Reform in Taiwan under Japanese Colonial Rule, 1895–1945: The Reception of Western Law. Seattle: Washington University Press.
Weber, Max. 1978. Basic Sociological Terms. In Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, ed. Roth, Guenther and Wittich, Claus, 362. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Winckler, Edwin A. 1981. Roles Linking State and Society. In The Anthropology of Taiwanese Society, ed. Ahern, Emily Martin and Gates, Hill, 5088. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Winckler, Edwin A. 1984. Institutionalization and Participation on Taiwan: From Hard to Soft Authoritarianism? China Quarterly 99:481–99.
Winn, Jane Kaufman. 1994. Relational Practices and the Marginalization of Law: Informal Financial Practices of Small Businesses in Taiwan. Law & Society Review 28 (2): 193232.
Wong, Timothy Ka‐ying. 2001. From Ethnic to Civic Nationalism: The Formation and Changing Nature of Taiwanese Identity. Asian Perspective 25 (3): 175296.
Wu, Nai‐teh. 1987. The Politics of a Regime Patronage System: Mobilization and Control within an Authoritarian Regime. PhD diss., Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Ye, Qizheng, Huang, Guangguo, Cai, Yuanqi, Lai, Xianzong, and Zhang, Honghui. 2000. “”[“Consensus and Multiplicity” Roundtable].[Thought and Words: Journal of the Humanities and Social Science] 38 (3): 143.
Yeh, Jiunn‐Rong. 2002. Constitutional Reform and Democratization in Taiwan, 1945–2000. In Taiwan's Modernization in Global Perspective, ed. Chow, Peter C. Y., 4778. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Zhang, Jingsen. 1993. Taiwan De Dushijihua 1895–19881895–1988. Taiwan's Urban Planning 1895–1988]. Taipei:[Yeqiang].

The Social Life of Regulation in Taipei City Hall: The Role of Legality in the Administrative Bureaucracy

  • Anya Bernstein


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed