28 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2011
Date Written: February 21, 2011
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: 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