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Ruling before the Law
The Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia

Part of Cambridge Studies in Law and Society

  • Date Published: April 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108427203


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About the Authors
  • How do legal systems actually operate outside of Western European or North American liberal democracies? To understand law and legal institutions globally, we must go beyond asking if countries comply with idealized, yet under-theorized, rule of law principles to determine how they work in practice. Examining legal regimes across different areas of criminal and civil law in both urban and rural China and Indonesia during distinct periods from 1949 to the present, William Hurst offers a new way of understanding how cases are adjudicated (and with what implications) across authoritarian, developing, post-colonial, and newly democratizing settings. This is the first systematic comparative study of the world's largest Communist and majority-Muslim nations, and the most comprehensive scholarly work in many years on the micro-level workings of either the Chinese or Indonesian legal system at the grassroots, based on a decade of research and extensive fieldwork in multiple Indonesian and Chinese provinces.

    •  Furthers our understanding of law and politics in Asia
    • Offers a new theoretical and analytical framework with broad implications
    • The book is based on comparative fieldwork-based research in both China and Indonesia
    • Grounds political analysis in historical, cross-national, and subnational contexts
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'No one but Hurst could have written this book. His close study of variation across and within two giant countries generates theoretical insights that go well beyond China and Indonesia, though scholars of each country will also profit. A monumental achievement and a major advance in socio-legal studies.' Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago Law School

    'Ruling Before the Law brings a fresh and stimulating perspective to the study of legal systems. The author rejects the dominant Rule of Law framework, in which China is understood as either having or not having the Rule of Law, or as somewhere along a Rule of Law continuum. Instead, he uses a political science perspective to posit a different way to understand the relevant characteristics of a legal regime, allowing us to understand better how and in what specific respects national legal systems either resemble or differ from each other.' Donald Clarke, George Washington University Law School

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108427203
    • length: 316 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 6 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Understanding legal regimes
    2. Historical overview of Chinese and Indonesian legal regimes
    3. Law and revolution: mobilizational justice and charismatic politics
    4. Rule by law: authoritarian legitimacy and legal efficiency
    5. Neotraditional sclerosis: law in the service of stagnant hierarchies.

  • Author

    William Hurst, Northwestern University, Illinois
    William Hurst is Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, Illinois. For this book, he completed more than two years of field research across rural and urban settings of multiple provinces in both Indonesia and China. His first book, The Chinese Worker after Socialism (Cambridge, 2009), explored the economic, social, and political causes and ramifications of more than 35 million job losses in China's state-owned enterprises, based on more than two years of fieldwork and over 350 interviews in nine Chinese cities.

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