Chinese cultural values and international human rights: how to conduct empirical human rights field work in China

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Eriksson, Sanna Tulikki
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This paper discusses how to conduct empirical human rights research at a local level in China. It draws upon the receptor approach, which is a novel approach to human rights, attempting to go beyond the universalism-relativism divide in the discussion on human rights and local culture. This paper discusses previous suggestions on how to move beyond the divide and suggests the receptor approach as a new means to transcend it. This research is based on fieldwork conducted in Shanghai. The methods used are free listing, cultural consensus analysis and vignette methodology. The paper discusses the advantages and drawbacks of these methods in human rights research in China, as well as the challenges empirical human rights research encounters at local level in China. This approach attempts uncover local traditional values that would be receptive of international human rights norms. This paper draws on the idea that human rights can be implemented successfully at a local level only when human rights norms can be grounded in local values. The focus here is on Confucian values and how these can be connected to human rights. Key words: China, human rights, empirical research, Confucianism, free listing, vignette methodology, cultural consensus analysis.
Second semester University: Utrecht University
confucianism, China, culture, human rights