Propaganda Work in Chinese Courts: Public trials and sentencing rallies as sites of expressive punishment and public education in the People's Republic of China
This article explores the nature and function of trials and sentencing rallies as mediums of propaganda in Chinese criminal court work. It looks at trials and rallies as two means through which courts project images and messages outwards to a community of onlookers, spectators and participants. The theatrics of adjudication and sentencing carry images and messages about the State, order, legitimacy and the consequences of punishment. The educative and deterrence tasks of the court in trials and sentencing rallies are therefore perceived as part of a wider program of social control and socialization in the People's Republic of China (PRC). The main period under examination is a pivotal stage of legal history in the PRC, the first years of the post-Mao reform period in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This examination of trials and sentencing rallies will show that despite the two-decade long push to effect a new modernist legal culture based on professionalism, regularity and bureaucratic rationality, criminal justice practices in China have continued to rely on the crude theatrics of expressive punishment that have been employed since the days of revolution.
Punishment and Society
© 2004 Sage Publications. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. First published in Punishment and Society. This journal is available online: http://pun.sagepub.com/content/vol6/issue1/