A legal realist view on citizen actions in Hong Kong's umbrella movement

John N. ERNI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers the legal validity of citizens' actions in civil disobedience as it pertains to the umbrella movement in Hong Kong. It introduces the critical approach of “legal realism” in order to reconsider normative law, such as police enforcement and court interventions, in relation to political struggle. It has been argued that the legal precepts of rights, responsibility, and the rule of law are capable of contingent and contextually appropriate interpretations by different legal actors, including citizens who participate in civil disobedience. In politics, justice, and most importantly law, civil disobedience offers an alternative legal normativity to consider the citizen's right, and even duty, to express dissent. Furthermore, this right or duty is legally persuasive and conducive to guarding democratic principles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-419
Number of pages8
JournalChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • Civil disobedience
  • Hong Kong
  • Law and order
  • Legal realism
  • Umbrella movement


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