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Authoritarian Legality in China
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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.


'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 Source: Pacific Affairs

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  • 1 - Authoritarian Legality at Work
    pp 1-20
  • The Workplace and China's Urbanization
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