Relational Practices and the Marginalization of Law: Informal Financial Practices of Small Businesses in Taiwan

Law & Society Review, Vol. 28, 1994

University of Washington School of Law Research Paper

34 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2012

See all articles by Jane K. Winn

Jane K. Winn

University of Washington - School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 1994

Abstract

There is a significant relationship between Taiwan’s rapid economic development and indigenous Taiwanese social practices and ideas about law. This relationship has generally been misconstrued or overlooked by much of the academic literature discussing Taiwan’s economic “miracle.” Networks of interpersonal relationships have played a significant role in promoting economic development, while the ROC legal system has often been reduced to a role of enabling those relationships rather than establishing the kind of universal normative order often associated with the idea of a modern legal system. A substantial component of Taiwan’s economic development has taken place in the informal sector, outside the purview of the ROC legal system. This study is the first attempt to develop a systematic account of the marginalization of Taiwan’s modern legal system and the concomitant heightened significance of alternatives, such as networks of personal connections or informal surrogates for legal regulation, in contributing to Taiwan’s rapid economic development. The role played by the ROC legal system in indirectly supporting relational practices is not one that can readily be expressed in terms of legal theories constructed to account for the relationship between law and development in Western nations. The conflict between contemporary Taiwanese social reality and liberal-democratic theory, when recognized, is usually followed by exhortations for the Taiwanese system to further modernize, thus resolving any conflict in favor of the Western model. If, however, Taiwan’s system is not so much moving toward convergence with Western models as developing along alternative lines, then analyzing how formal legal institutions in Taiwan are marginalized may better explain processes of economic development and democratization in many nations outside the Western legal and political tradition.

Keywords: modernization, development, Taiwan, China, legal centralism, legal pluralism

Suggested Citation

Winn, Jane, Relational Practices and the Marginalization of Law: Informal Financial Practices of Small Businesses in Taiwan (January 1, 1994). Law & Society Review, Vol. 28, 1994, University of Washington School of Law Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2127895

Jane Winn (Contact Author)

University of Washington - School of Law ( email )

William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States

HOME PAGE: https://www.law.washington.edu/directory/profile.aspx?ID=103

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