Ritual and Property: Theorizing a Chinese Case
Man and the Economy, DOI 10.1515/me-2017-0004
25 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2017
Date Written: February 5, 2017
This paper introduces the concept of ‘ritual’ for analysing the interaction between informal and formal institutions, taking land property rights in South China as an empirical case. By ritual, we refer to public actions that involve artefacts and create common knowledge about behavioural patterns in a population. This theoretical notion of ritual (suggested by Michael Chwe) matches with indigenous Chinese notions (li zhi), both in terms of scholarly work and popular usages. Based on own fieldwork, we investigate into the representative case of an ‘urban village’ in Shenzhen where traditional lineage practices have shaped the institutional and physical transformation of this dynamic metropolis. We claim that the current management of land rights stays in continuity with the ‘ritual economy’ of traditional China.
Keywords: Ritual, informal institutions, Shenzhen, Chinese lineages, land property rights, shareholding cooperatives, popular religion
JEL Classification: K0, P3, Z1
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