Monday, December 4, 2006
Posted by Alan Childress
Ethan Michelson (Indiana-Bloomington, Soc'y & East Asia depts. [right, bottom--with Xiaoxia and Rachel on his back in ascending order]) has posted an empirical study of the emerging legal profession in China and the effect of embedded socialist institutions on it. It is in SSRN L&S: Legal Prof., and called "Lawyers, Political Embeddedness, and Institutional Continuity in China's Transition from Socialism." Previously we posted on his earlier study of client screening. The newer paper's abstract:
This paper develops the concept of political embeddedness and demonstrates its explanatory utility through an empirical analysis of Chinese lawyers, their professional troubles, and their coping strategies. Political embeddedness, defined broadly as bureaucratic, instrumental, or affective ties to the state and its actors, helps Chinese lawyers survive their everyday difficulties, such as routine administrative interference, official rent-seeking, and police harassment and intimidation. Evidence from a first-of-its-kind 25-city survey of Chinese lawyers suggests -- in a twist of irony -- that lawyers' dependence on key gatekeepers and decision-makers in government agencies, including judges, prosecutors, and police, has reinforced the importance of political embeddedness as a basis for professional survival and success inside the very institutions that have been attributed with obviating the need for the mobilization of political connections. Chinese lawyers tell us at least as much about the enduring legacy of socialist institutions as they do about incipient capitalist and rule of law institutions.