Strengthening the Rule of Virtue and Finding Chinese Law in 'Other' Places: Gods, Kin, Guilds, and Gifts

28 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2011

See all articles by Mary Szto

Mary Szto

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Date Written: February 21, 2011

Abstract

Discussions about the rule of law in China today often do not consider traditional institutions and practices. Before the tumultuous events of the 20th century, traditional Chinese law (TCL) was remarkably continuous and stable for centuries. It was a blend of ritual and law focused on flourishing, virtue formation, and self-rule. Ritual was communion with, and law accountability to, the invisible spirit world. This blend spanned multiple jurisdictions, from state codes and courts to divine petitions and courts, to ancestral rites and family codes, to merchant codes and courts. Chinese law can be found in these 'other places', including gifts and feasts. Effective legal reform today should also include an exploration of current rituals and invisible accountability, multiple fora and a strengthening of the rule of virtue. Present-day practices of lavish gifts, banquets and wine become comprehensible within this framework.

Keywords: Chinese law, Chinese religion, ritual, Emperor, ancestor worship, City God, clan, merchant guild, banquet, wine, gifts, luxury goods, rule of law, rule of virtue, Confucius, Daoism, underworld courts, spirits, contracts, business, cross-cultural

JEL Classification: K10, K40, K41, K12

Suggested Citation

Szto, Mary, Strengthening the Rule of Virtue and Finding Chinese Law in 'Other' Places: Gods, Kin, Guilds, and Gifts (February 21, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1766023 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1766023

Mary Szto (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

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