Rights Consciousness and Rules Consciousness in Contemporary China
31 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 20, 2009
Do Chinese people have rights consciousness or only rules consciousness? Rules consciousness combines awareness of the necessity of having protection from rule-enforcement authorities with willingness to secure such protection through direct or indirect participation in rule-enforcement. Rights consciousness, on the other hand, combines awareness of the necessity of having protection from rule-making authorities with willingness to secure such protection through direct or indirect participation in rule-making. In contemporary China, rules consciousness presumes skepticism toward local rule-enforcement authorities and a sense of equality with them before central policies or state laws. By contrast, rights consciousness presumes skepticism toward central rule-making authorities and a sense of equality in relation to antecedent principles that are prior to and superior to political rules. A survey of farmers in 2007 shows that reactive claims against local rule-enforcement authorities are associated with skepticism toward township leaders, which suggests that they represent rules consciousness. Proactive claims against central rule-making authorities, on the other hand, are associated with skepticism toward central leaders, which suggests they reflect rights consciousness.
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