Current Publications

Black or Fifty Shades of Grey? The Power and Limits of the Social Credit Blacklist System in China

Alexander Trauth-Goik, Chuncheng Liu

Punishment from the state can rely on formal state apparatuses, but also the mobilization and co-option of the deviant’s own social connections to enhance the power of social control. This study utilizes a mixed-method design based on 30 interviews and a national survey to examine how such ‘relational punishment’ operates in China today as part of the nation-wide Social Credit Blacklist System. The authors first trace the history of blacklisting as a governance tool. The article then illustrates how the state’s symbolic campaign encourages the ostracization of blacklisted people. However, this power has its limits. People commonly differentiate the character of blacklisted people with contextual and relational information, constructing alternative meanings for individuals thus labelled, therefore undermining the reach and influence of the Blacklist System.

Department of East Asian Studies
External organisation(s)
University of California, San Diego
Journal of Contemporary China
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
602045 Sinology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Geography, Planning and Development, Development, Political Science and International Relations
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