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Book Review: Urbanization and Social Welfare in China

China Information , Volume 20 (2): 318 – Jul 1, 2006


Sage Publications
Copyright © 2006 by SAGE Publications
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Book Review: Urbanization and Social Welfare in China


example of her work with sociolegal tools. Once again, I thought her treat- ment of the problem an excellent introduction that should benefit both stu- dents of Chinese law interested in learning more about sociolegal methodology and those whose work is grounded in Western legal traditions who are interested in comparative study. In the end, my only serious quarrel with the book is that it could have done more. I would have been fascinated, for example, by an extended consideration of the linguistic history that ren- dered xianfa "constitution." Why xianfa? Why not guofa? Why not something else closer to "basic law," in the sense that basic = fundamental? I realize, of course, that the factors that lead one word to take on a particular legal or political meaning are part of complex linguistic processes, rather than simple choices. Both Cao and Stephen Angle have done excellent jobs in illuminat- ing these processes in their consideration of the way quanli came to be equat- ed with "rights." But the fact remains, those processes and their results matter linguistically and legally, and it would have been elucidating to see Cao extend her analysis to xianfa and some other terms.
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