Discourses in the Petition Office of Chinese Courts

Project: Research

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The petition system is a vital sector in China’s dispute resolution process. Despite the proliferation of literature on the system, few efforts have been made to understand the trajectories of petitioners' legal consciousness, how they frame their grievances, and what discourses petition officials deploy to respond. To fill the gap, this Project will expand our preliminary study to six courts with their representative profiles of different levels of hierarchy, economic and institutional development, political pressures, and judicial professionalism. Drawing upon petition office ethnography and interviews with relevant petitioners and petition officials/judges, this Project will identify the genres and characteristics of discourses employed by both the petitioners and petition officials in Chinese courts. It examines how the two groups interact during petition meetings and explores how the process influences the formation of further grievances. The findings of this Project are critical to understand how justice is exercised in the petition system of Chinese courts. The Project will not only generate policy recommendations for reforms to the petition system in China, but also provide evidence for broader theoretical debates about dispute transformation and the relationship between law, politics, and perception of justice.


Project number9042306
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/168/01/18

    Research areas

  • discourse,petition,China ,courts,