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Abstract

Current law-and-development literature overwhelmingly urges the privatization of the economy and the establishment of a rule-of-law system, which endows citizens with rights and obligations, with the expectation that democracy and equality will inevitably follow. However, the above excerpts from my research interviewing female Chinese divorce litigants about their experiences in the Chinese court system capture a much more ambiguous effect of Chinese reforms on its citizens' sense of rights and entitlements. This article looks at China's recent legal reform through the eyes of male and female divorce litigants, and examines the kinds of citizenship rights that are being promoted through the Chinese court system. Are the changes occurring within the Chinese legal system encouraging a sense of citizenship rights and equality amongst its citizens? How has the Chinese court system benefited its most vulnerable citizens? Are Chinese legal reforms consistent with its citizens' conceptions of justice?

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