“Law Does Not Come Down From Heaven”: Youth Legal Socialisation Approaches in Chinese Textbooks of the Xi Jinping Era

Orna Naftali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Schools constitute key sites for legal socialisation, the process whereby youth develop their relationship with the law. Yet, what does legal socialisation entail in the context of an authoritarian party-state such as China? The article examines this question by analysing Chinese citizenship education textbooks of the Xi era. The study finds that China's current textbooks contain elements associated with both a coercive and a consensual approach to legal education. Nonetheless, it is the consensual orientation that receives greater stress, as the books highlight the positive benefits of legal compliance and endorse the idea that youth should advance beyond the external supervisory stage to the self-discipline level of legal consciousness. Reflecting the attempt of the Chinese Communist Party leadership to draw on legality as a key source of legitimacy, this approach is nonetheless undermined by the propagandist tone of the textbooks and their ambiguous messages regarding citizens’ ability to challenge China's existing laws.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)265-291
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Current Chinese Affairs
Volume51
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Keywords

  • China
  • citizenship education
  • legal socialisation
  • youth

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