Transforming Land-Taking Disputes in Socialist Asia: Engaging an Authoritarian State

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Few studies have responded to the calls by sociolegal scholars to explore how disputes evolve. This article takes up the challenge by examining how intermediaries in socialist Asia resolve land-taking disputes that are intractable for administrative appeals and courts. Exploring alternatives to state-based dispute resolution is a pressing issue for conflicts that pit citizens against authoritarian regimes. Using in-depth interviews, this article investigates how intermediaries such as retired state officials navigate in and around authoritarian regimes, flattening power asymmetries between citizens and land officials. This analysis draws from, links, and advances three literatures that examine dispute resolution in different ways: the sociolegal “naming, blaming, and claiming” literature examines the trajectory of disputes, regulatory studies use legitimacy expectations to analyze how disputants evaluate and prioritize competing regulatory frameworks, and the collective identity literature analyzes how communities respond to disputes. This article contributes to the literature by developing a theoretical framework that explains how intermediaries circumvent conceptual differences and transform disputes. The findings compel researchers to consider the use of intermediaries as an alternative to state-sponsored dispute resolution in authoritarian settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-303
Number of pages24
JournalLaw and Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • dispute resolution processes
  • property law
  • Asian studies
  • Intermediation
  • socio-legal studies

Cite this