Maintaining Stability by Law : Protest-Supported Housing Demolition Litigation and Social Change in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

27 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-873
Journal / PublicationLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number4
Online published24 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


Housing demolition has been one of the major sources of social conflict in contemporary China. Drawing on evidence collected in fieldwork investigations, this article examines the pressure of protest-supported housing demolition litigation and its impacts. It finds that under the pressure of litigation, the courts have devised coping mechanisms to constrain the housing demolition authorities, and that social change angling toward more transparency and accountability has occurred. The article argues that this change is made possible as the maintenance of social stability has become not only the paramount concern of the regime, but also the performance assessment criterion for local officials and judges. The findings deepen our understanding of the causes and consequences of judicial empowerment in China and shed light on the dynamics of judicial politics in other regimes.