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Abstract

Study of the general theory of law, as an independent branch of legal research, originated in Germany in the mid to late 19th century, and thereafter became a widely propagated and well-developed subject in countries such as the UK and the US. Scholars from the Soviet Union combined the general theory of law with Marxist philosophy and adapted it from an analytical legal theory to a social legal theory. The inheritance and development of the general theory of law in China went through three stages. Specifically, from the 1950s to the early 1960s, the jurisprudence community fully adopted the legal theories promoted by the Soviet Union; from the early 1980s to the late 1990s, the studies reflected upon past theories and sought advancement; and from the late 1990s to present, research has adopted a more open and innovative approach. In addition, the philosophy of law and other interdisciplinary subjects have gradually become dominant research paradigms. A review and compilation based on the evolution of theories of legal relations showed that the study of the general theory of law in China is closely associated to the historical rate of progress of the practice of rule of law and jurisprudence in China. The overall framework of the research is deeply influenced by the model of “theories of the Soviet + civil-law prototypes”. In addition, the research methods have evolved from investigations utilizing a single approach to processes combining various approaches. The general theory of law is far from a “relic of history,” and corresponding in-depth research is recommended for future jurisprudence study in China

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