Rights Consciousness and Rules Consciousness in Contemporary China

31 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2009

See all articles by Lianjiang Li

Lianjiang Li

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Social Science

Date Written: August 20, 2009

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Li, Lianjiang, Rights Consciousness and Rules Consciousness in Contemporary China (August 20, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1458223 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1458223

Lianjiang Li (Contact Author)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Social Science ( email )

Hong Kong

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