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1 The History-of-Practice Approach to Studying Chinese Law (Introduction to Chinese Civil Justice, Past and Present)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter provides introductory remarks on past and present Chinese civil justice. The study of legal history generally emphasizes legal codes more than the actual workings of the law, and legal theories more than actual legal practice. The chapter illustrates with an analytical theme developed from the history-of-practice approach. It demonstrates in detail that a particularly important characteristic of Chinese law is that, with respect to the duality of experience and theory, it privileges experience, but not to the neglect of theory. The purpose of using "practical moralism" to conceptualize Qing law is to highlight its merging of moral representations with practical action. The history of the practice of divorce law reveals the same mode of thinking, and furthermore shows the nature of the very distinctive court mediation system that has continued to this day.

Keywords: Chinese civil justice; Chinese law; court mediation system; divorce law; history-of-practice approach; Qing law



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