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Abstract

This J.S.D. dissertation consists of three articles that critically examine a series of novel institutional developments in contemporary China in relation to the increasingly important social and informational practices of reputation. Scholarly literature in law and social science for the most recent decade has considered the proliferation of reputation systems as driven primarily by market and technological forces. In responding to problems in the reputation market, contemporary Western legal systems have overall taken a reactive approach as it regulates, relying on such legal instruments as privacy and defamation, the market-based process of reputation production and dissemination. In comparison, China has explored a much wider range of legal and regulatory tools in pursuit of overt and strategic interventions to the production and distribution of reputation. Besides more aggressive approaches to regulating information problems relating to privacy and falsehoods, through a social credit system project, China has also moved towards active adoption of novel reputation mechanisms to reconstruct its legal and government apparatus. As this dissertation examines these institutional practices, it aims to put to test and also expand the current understandings, formed largely by drawing on only the Western practices, about how the state, the law, and reputation interact and what political and socio-economic implications such interaction may have.

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