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Political and Economic Foundations of Law: Law and Governance in Asia




Admissions requirements

None, but Socio-legal Studies and/or Legal Systems Worldwide are recommended.


Most jurists take law for granted and consider it as a neutral body of rules and institutions. This view does not take into account that law is the result of political-economic processes. Law is the main instrument the state has to shape itself and society – it is profoundly political in its formation and its application. Nowhere is this more visible than in Asia, where the law’s main role is to ensure political obedience and promote economic growth.

The present course looks at law and governance in Asia and explores how law relates to economic development. Its socio-legal approach helps us to understand the crucial influence that politics and economics have upon legal systems. A general introduction is followed by three case studies which are representative for different parts of the region. The first concerns ‘socialist market economies’ and looks at the relation between Party rule and courts in China. The second is about the ‘developmental state’ and ‘guided informalism’ as a means of promoting economic development in Japan. The third concerns ‘budding democracies’ and explores the changing role of the court system in governing the economy and protecting human rights of poor and vulnerable groups in Indonesia. Each topic will be presented in the course of several classes by an expert in the field.

By combining the insights from the general part with the case studies, in the end students will have gained considerable insight into the role of law and governance in political and economic development generally, and in Asia in particular.

Course objectives

After successful completion of this course, students are able to:

  • describe the basics of the relationship between law, politics and economic development.

  • compare and contrast main features of the Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian legal systems in theory and practice as they relate to politics and economic development in a historical context.

  • critically review the main theories and concepts in this field (developmental state, common law and civil law, legal empowerment, etc.).


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Each week will consist of two seminars, which combine lecturing, student’s presentations with discussions. Through seminar discussion, group presentations, assignments, and coursework students are given the opportunity to present and discuss their ideas within an academic setting.


  • Two times two hours for seven weeks;

  • Seminars and the required assignments provide the students with the opportunity to apply their newly gained knowledge and train their academic skills.


Two group presentations (15%)
Three assignments (300 words) (10%)
Class performance (10%)
Final Essay (2000 words) (30%)
Exam (35%)


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

The literature for this course consists mostly of academic articles, specified in the course syllabus. The literature can be downloaded from Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact



To prepare for the first lecture, please read the literature mentioned on blackboard.