Deliberative democracy or populist punitiveness: feminist politics and China’s big data surveillance

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Sociologists have noted that the one-child policy in China empowered the young generation of urban-born females. Without having to compete with brothers, this generation of ‘urban daughters’ gained unprecedented support from their parents in education, housing and other aspects of life. They are the driving force behind China’s digital feminism movement. Using social media as their battlefield, the young feminist activists in China have successfully campaigned for sex offender registration. The Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced that it will establish a nationwide paedophiles database in 2019. In 2020, the local government of Yiwu opened its database of domestic violence offenders to females filing for marriage. These new policies attracted positive feedback from netizens. They shaped the image that the local and central decision makers of the CCP have listened and responded to grassroots campaigns. However, the Chinese feminists achieved less success when their demands are not tied to surveillance and social control. In May 2020, the National Congress of China approved the new Civil Code, which contains divorce proceedings that might disadvantage women, especially victims of domestic violence. Despite widespread online protest, the new law went ahead. The inconsistency raises the question that whether the feminist movement in China was appropriated by the carceral state, and what is the boundary between deliberative democracy and populist punitiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2020
EventEuropean Society of Criminology Annual Conference (online) 2020 -
Duration: 10 Sept 202011 Sept 2020


ConferenceEuropean Society of Criminology Annual Conference (online) 2020
Internet address


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