Punishment, solidarity and social schisms: Exploring the bottom-up reform of sex offender registration in China

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In 2017 the Minhang District of Shanghai introduced sex offender registration. Local governments in Jiangsu and Guangdong quickly followed this precedent. In 2019 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced its plan of establishing national sex offender registries by 2022. This study explores the solidarity and schisms underlying this bottom-up reform. It analysed 1292 microblog posts on Weibo the main social media platform for civic activism in China. Quantitative and qualitative analysis suggests that Chinese bloggers especially those from developed regions support this reform because they see the expansion of penal control as the compensation for regional inequality. In contrast bloggers from the less developed regions are more likely to question the reform because of their discontent with broader social injustice including the potential labelling effect caused by registration. Gender schism is also present. While involuntary bachelors see sex offender registration as oppression ‘urban daughters’ view it as a feminist achievement. The findings highlight that the shared hostility towards offenders does not necessarily blind people to existing schisms. However social media tend to make divergent opinions less discoverable. This transmission bias can further marginalise the disadvantaged social groups thus leading to entrenched intersecting inequalities. This risk is not peculiar to China.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2019
EventEuropean Society of Criminology Annual Conference 2019 - Ghent , Belgium
Duration: 18 Sept 201921 Sept 2019


ConferenceEuropean Society of Criminology Annual Conference 2019


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