The changes of criminal law and collective consciousness in contemporary China: A Durkheimian approach

Durkheim's extensive analysis of crime, repressive sanction and penal law is carried on as a means of illuminating the changes of collective consciousness (CC hereinafter) and mechanical solidarity. Repressive sanctions are deemed as a social institution which is caused by CC. Durkheim, in this sense, tries to look for the underpinning moral substance in repressive sanctions beyond the general comprehension of their instrumental function. This paper uses Durkheimian approach to examine the changes in CC of contemporary China reflected by the changes of criminal laws. However, there seems to be a dilemma between Durkheim's thesis and the findings obtained from Chinese society. Through explaining this dilemma, a deeper understanding on the changes of CC can be discovered. For example, the author argues that CC has a powerful function of “re-moralization” in modern China, which serves as a supplementation of Durkheim's theory of CC and shed light on relevant theories of public law.