International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss

Between “Paper Law” and “Living Law”: Banfang in Qing Dynasty
ZHANG Shiming

Banfang, also known as banguan, referred to the facility illegally established by local magistrates for keeping minor misdemeanants and relevant witnesses, it was not the state prison, and it lasted from the late Ming till the end of Qing dynasty. Existing historical records concerning banguan are mainly written after the reigns of Jiaqing and Daoguang. Traditionally, the expansion of banguan in Qing was often explained by moral corruption of bailiffs and laziness of officials, which caused the accumulation of many cases and the procrastination of detainment for years. This explanation is not only short of support from facts, but also biased. After a linguistic analysis of the concept of banguan and a textual information analysis of the phenomena of banguan, concepts of resources, practice, time and space are introduced to attempt an exploration of the structuration process of banguans, it is an examination of banguans in the relation network of behavioral processes rather than approaching banguans as entities,in order to explore the “transformative rules” between “paper law” and “living law” by a neo-historical jurisprudence approach.

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