Journal of Chinese Political Science

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 167–168 | Cite as

Mary E. Gallagher: Authoritarian Legality in China: Law, Workers, and the State

(Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2017), 264 pp., $29.99 Paperback
  • Thomas E. KelloggEmail author
Book Review

Why has China passed a raft of laws that increasingly protect labor rights, while at the same time failing to create the autonomous enforcement mechanisms needed to fully implement these laws? Why does the Chinese state publicize new labor rights protections, when it knows that these protections are often honored only in the breach? These are the puzzles at the heart of Professor Mary E. Gallagher’s important new book, Authoritarian Legality in China: Law, Workers, and the State.

In essence, Gallagher concludes that the Chinese government wants to have its cake and eat it too: it wants the political legitimacy and improved social stability that rule-based labor market regulation will provide, while at the same time preserving the policy flexibility it feels it needs to maintain political control and foster robust economic growth. As Gallagher puts it, “the Chinese government has very deliberately chosen methods of enforcement and compliance that are suboptimal for compliance but both...

Copyright information

© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgetown Center for Asian LawN.W. WashingtonUSA

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