Connected Contention: Social Resources and Petitioning the State in Rural China
48 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2006
Date Written: March 6, 2006
This paper explores the effects of social resources on strategies of complaining in rural China. Repertoires of contention are, to an important degree, produced by contextually specific institutions that give value to different kinds of social resources. In the Chinese context, political connections and elderly women are two social resources that increase the probability of making direct appeals to higher authorities in the event of a grievance. In an institutional context in which the legal system is fused to the government bureaucracy, political officeholders serve as gatekeepers to the courts. In an institutional environment that demands politically non-threatening forms of contention, older female family members are strategically mobilized to escalate claims to higher levels of authority. The findings presented in this paper underscore the need to bring social resources into survey research on disputing, the mobilization of law, and access to justice.
Keywords: China, law, rural
JEL Classification: K41, N45, P30, P36
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