AbstractSocieties of Senior Citizens (SSCs) are often thought to be non-political organizations focused on community traditions and services for the elderly. In Huashui Town, Zhejiang, however, SSCs took the lead in mobilizing protest and caused 11 factories to be closed. From 2004 to 2005, SSCs helped to fund a lawsuit, engineered a petition drive and organized tent-sitting at a chemical park notorious for its pollution. Huashui’s SSCs were effective mobilizing structures owing to their strong finances, organizational autonomy, effective leadership and the presence of biographically available, unafraid older villagers. Skillful mobilization led to efforts to rein in village SSCs and a reorganization which, however, had only a limited effect. SSC experiences in Huashui suggest that organized protest in China is more feasible than often thought and that understandings of protest outcomes should go beyond the success or failure of an episode to explore long-term consequences for the organizations involved.
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