Collective Resistance in China: Why Popular Protests Succeed or Fail

Collective Resistance in China: Why Popular Protests Succeed or Fail

Collective Resistance in China: Why Popular Protests Succeed or Fail

Collective Resistance in China: Why Popular Protests Succeed or Fail

Synopsis

Although academics have paid much attention to contentious politics in China and elsewhere, research on the outcomes of social protests, both direct and indirect, in non-democracies is still limited. In this new work, Yongshun Cai combines original fieldwork with secondary sources to examine how social protest has become a viable method of resistance in China and, more importantly, why some collective actions succeed while others fail.

Cai looks at the collective resistance of a range of social groups- peasants to workers to homeowners- and explores the outcomes of social protests in China by adopting an analytical framework that operationalizes the forcefulness of protestor action and the cost-benefit calculations of the government. He shows that a protesting group's ability to create and exploit the divide within the state, mobilize participants, or gain extra support directly affects the outcome of its collective action. Moreover, by exploring the government's response to social protests, the book addresses the resilience of the Chinese political system and its implications for social and political developments in China.

Excerpt

Popular resistance has become an important mode of political participation in China since the early 1990s. Various groups of people, including workers, peasants, and homeowners, have resorted to this mode of action to protect or pursue their interests. Numerous contentious incidents have put serious pressure on the party-state. It is against this background that building a socalled harmonious society has recently become a top priority of the central party-state. The collective acts of resistance have occurred not only because there have been widespread violations of citizens' rights but also because this mode of action helps citizens to defend or pursue their legitimate rights. As elsewhere, people stage collective resistance not simply because they want to send a signal of impatience or frustration but also because “they have some reason to think it will help their cause.” In China, some protestors have been successful in their resistance, and, more importantly, their resistance has also led or contributed to changes in some unfavorable policies.

On the other hand, popular contention is by no means an easy or safe undertaking in China. In recent years, many participants in non-regimethreatening collective resistance have been detained, arrested, or imprisoned. For example, in a county in the Guangxi Autonomous Region, peasants from a village resisted a 2004 court ruling regarding ownership of a piece of land. In January 2005, the local government arrested twenty-seven peasant activists. When more than 200 villagers approached the local authorities demanding the release of the activists, they were accused of attacking state agencies, and about 110 were detained. Seventeen villagers were sentenced to jail terms of up to eight years, ten were sent to labor camps for . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.