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Contesting crimmigration in post-hukou China

Ma, Tian (2019) Contesting crimmigration in post-hukou China. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent, Utrecht University. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

In Chinese society today, internal migrants are commonly perceived as criminals. Flawed official statistics feed this perception. I sought to understand why this perception persists and how it affects migrants to China's urban cities. My investigation into how migration has been constructed into the concept of Crimmigration strikes at the core of the ultimate questions of this research: who is being criminalized, how does the political-economic-cultural institution known as 'hukou' shape the process, and how has the role of hukou changed over time? Both my theoretical framework and my analysis comprise unique contributions to the criminological literature. Drawing on six months of field work in Yangtze River Delta, China, this research reflects on a historical development on hukou and its function in social control. My novel concept, 'post-hukou China', is introduced in this study as a means to analyse the declining disciplinary role of hukous in both mobility and social control. The research moves beyond the narrow scope of relying on the centrality of hukou in the systems of criminal justice, focusing instead on the flow between the abated hukou system as well as a system of negotiated regulatory regimes. Therefore, centre stage is given to the daily social reproduction of 'migrant criminality' via legal practices. Systematic fieldwork comprised sixty-one interviews with legal professionals, including police, protectorates, criminal judges, criminal lawyers and the staff from prisons and jails, was conducted in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo, China. Four interviews were conducted with migrant leaders in the same region. This supports an extended analysis of pragmatic aspects of each decision-making moment in the criminal justice system. These moments are central to my full explanation of how and why the hukou status of the criminal offender shapes sentencing outcomes in China. Against this background, this dissertation argues that: 1) Cumulative discrimination against the migrant population exists at every juncture of the criminal justice system. Decisions taken at one point in the system often affect what occurs at another. This can be found in various mechanisms of the crime control regime, with the non-local-hukou registered (NLHR) population being stop-and-searched more frequently than local-hukou-registered (LHR) population and experiencing a disproportionately high rate of police arrests and pre-trial incarceration. NLHRs are also more likely to receive longer sentences, to be denied parole and probation, and to receive discriminatory treatment in prison. 2) Decisions that are presented and believed to be individually and independently made are actually made institutionally and systematically. The cyclical nature of criminal justice processing is enshrined in routine everyday practice on the basis of an index-oriented evaluation system of the criminal justice apparatus. 3) The way in which the system is designed and functions renders NLHRs into vulnerable targets of legal bureaucrats who are under great pressure to fulfil indexes, improve performance statistics, comply with evaluation criteria and demonstrate their membership in the collective that matters most to them: China's legal system. 4) In the criminalization process in the post-hukou era, resource-rich and wealthy NLHRs enjoy various levels of impunity. Legal instruments function for the reproduction of a hierarchical division, define and re-define the notions of who may be mobile and what may be mobilized. 5) Crimmigration in post hukou China suggested that the decline in hukou competence does not suggest a loosening of mobility control in today's China. Rather, the de-bordering process claimed by 'hukou reform' comes hand-in-hand with a re-bordering process, through everyday law enforcement, that includes pre-ordained 'deserving citizens' and excludes the rest - the 'unwanted'.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Matthews, Roger Matthews
Thesis advisor: Carney, Phil
Uncontrolled keywords: Crimmigration, China, hukou
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Criminology
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2019 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2019 09:47 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/74613 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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