The hukou and traditional virtue: An ethnographic note on Taiwanese policing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research note suggests that traditional ideals of virtue in Taiwan enable an order-making dynamic to operate in the backstage of state record-keeping processes. These virtues coordinate cooperation by policemen, civilians and politically empowered elites, simultaneously facilitating local order-maintenance and ensuring that police records serve the interests of the established political economic structure. I focus on the ways that this arrangement is grounded in the historical institution of the population registry, or hukou. I argue that Taiwan's hukou has effectively translated traditional virtues into policeable objects of modern administration: inscribed in the documentary practices of population registration, embedded in a naturalized division of social control labor, and institutionalized as collective habits of response to trouble.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
JournalTheoretical Criminology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian modernity
  • Taiwan
  • hukou
  • policing
  • traditional virtue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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