Pragmatic Discourse and Gender Inequality in China

Law & Society Review, Forthcoming

48 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2012

See all articles by Xin He

Xin He

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK); University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Law, Visiting

Kwai Hang Ng

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Date Written: November 30, 2012

Abstract

Using courtroom dialogues in actual court trials in China as data, this article analyzes an emerging “pragmatic discourse,” deployed by judges to assist but the same time to constrain divorcing women. Through questions, statements, rebuttals, and other interactional devices, Chinese judges define the premises that underpin the law’s understanding of gender equality and women’s welfare. By looking at how discourses are deployed by judges and litigants, we link micro linguistic practices to more general social forces and processes. Despite their honest effort to protect women’s rights, Chinese judges often inadvertently reinforce and reproduce the patriarchal norm. The data demonstrate how the hegemonic patriarchal order reasserts itself in an institutional forum that is meant to promote gender equality. The interaction of the discourses also highlights the tensions in Chinese society and displays the effect of changing social environment on the legal operation.

Suggested Citation

He, Xin and Ng, Kwai Hang, Pragmatic Discourse and Gender Inequality in China (November 30, 2012). Law & Society Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2182924

Xin He (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) ( email )

83 Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon
Hong Kong

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Law, Visiting

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Kwai Hang Ng

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
204
Abstract Views
995
rank
152,328
PlumX Metrics