East Asian Law: Universal Norms and Local Cultures

East Asian Law: Universal Norms and Local Cultures

East Asian Law: Universal Norms and Local Cultures

East Asian Law: Universal Norms and Local Cultures

Synopsis

An exploration of the tension in East Asia between the trend towards a convergence of legal practices in the direction of a universal model and a reassertion of local cultural practices, including those which define different group identities.

Excerpt

The debate over the remarkable economic growth in East Asian societies has tended to emphasize the importance of universal values, such as 'rule of law', in contrast to traditional, and other culturally specific mechanisms of social and economic organization. It is far from clear what is connoted by such terms, in particular societies. It seems safe to suggest that the use of such terms as 'rule of law' is linked in the minds of many observers to the particular needs of global economic markets. Some observers complain that such heavy emphasis on universalisms denies or denigrates the role of law in traditional society. Others respond that this emphasis overstates the role of law in modern Western social organization. the heart of the matter is that universalisms and localisms do not operate in inevitable contradiction. the tensions between them are balanced as each society gives rise to particular collections of social norms and institutions, including law. By comparing how East Asian societies have accommodated these tensions in dealing with different, specific problems, we hope to learn useful lessons about the potential of law, in all its forms.

This collection of essays, exploring the interactions between law and cultural values, was written in commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the birth of the late Professor Hiroshi Wagatsuma. Professor Wagatsuma was an anthropologist and social psychologist who devoted his career to the study of comparative identities and legal institutions in East Asia. Sponsored by the Hiroshi Wagatsuma Memorial Fund, the ucla Asia-Pacific Institute and the ucla School of Law, a symposium was held in Los Angeles in January 2001 entitled '"Rule of Law" and Group Identities Embedded in Asian Traditions and Cultures'. the symposium at ucla brought together scholars in sociology, political science, anthropology, economics and law from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and the United States. Papers presented at the symposium reflect the interdisciplinary shape of the group, as well as different national perspectives. This book includes nine essays originally presented at the symposium and subsequently revised to take into account the discussions among the participants at the symposium. in addition, an introductory chapter has been written explicitly for this collection to provide greater cohesion while raising further questions.

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