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Social Movements in China and Hong Kong

Social Movements in China and Hong Kong: The Expansion of Protest Space

Khun Eng Kuah-Pearce
Gilles Guiheux
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 316
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  • Book Info
    Social Movements in China and Hong Kong
    Book Description:

    The starting point of this book is the acknowledgement that on one side Chinese individuals, freer from the constraints of the State, have to rely on their own efforts for their well-being and, on the other side, in some circumstances, they gather together to defend their interests. The individualisation of society goes hand in hand with the collective movements that emerged as a result of individual wants. There are not only internal factors leading to the emergence of collective forms of action, but also external ones and that's why the editors have chosen to encompass Hong Kong in their study. The authors argue that protest actions and movement taking place in the Mainland and Hong Kong have enabled both societies to expand their protest spaces. At a theoretical level, these developments lead us to reconceputalise citizenship as practised rather than as given. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1055-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-7)
    Khun Eng Kuah-Pearce and Gilles Guiheux
  4. Note on Romanisation
    (pp. 8-8)
  5. 1 Framing Social Movements in Contemporary China and Hong Kong
    (pp. 9-24)
    Khun Eng Kuah-Pearce and Gilles Guiheux

    Since 1979, economic reforms have led to a radical transformation of Chinese society. At the time of the planned economy, individual lives were being taken care of, and the citizens did not have to worry about their present and future livelihood, over which they did not have much influence anyway. Jobs, accommodation, education and health care were provided by the State or State-related institutions. Besides, society was almost static as social status was quasi-inherited from one generation to another and jointly decided by political factors and the position of the individual in the production system. It was considered, and stated...

  6. 2 Social Protests, Village Democracy and State Building in China: How Do Rural Social Protests Promote Village Democracy?
    (pp. 25-44)
    Baogang He

    Social protests are frequent occurrences in rural China. In facing rural unrest, disorder and instability, the government has adopted various strategies. The main one aims to contain collective actions through prohibiting any unofficial national associations, punishing the organisers of collective actions, and disciplining local officials who are corrupt or incapable of controlling social protests. As a result, rural social protests and movements are not able to form a national political movement. They take place on a small scale – they are minor and mild, informal, isolated, sporadic, and dispersed.

    The total suppression of political participation is dangerous. Alexis de Tocqueville...

  7. 3 Social Movements and State-Society Relationship in Hong Kong
    (pp. 45-64)
    Ngok Ma

    This chapter discusses the evolution of social movements in Hong Kong from the early colonial era to the post-handover period. Hong Kong has been regarded as a minimally integrated system with weak links between state and society. However, years of development of social movement and civil society since the 1970s mean the civil society in Hong Kong, by actively demanding social and political reforms, has been increasingly influential during the political transition and after the handover.

    This chapter analyses the historical development, in particular the form of organisation, of the social movement in Hong Kong. It shows that with weak...

  8. 4 Social Movements and the Law in Post-Colonial Hong Kong
    (pp. 65-90)
    Albert H.Y. Chen

    Social movements are an important social and political phenomenon in the contemporary world. Many sociologists, political scientists and historians have contributed to the study of social movements. As regards the relationship between social movements and the law, Michael McCann has pointed out in his discussion of a number of social movements that ‘legal norms, discourses, and practices in each case were an important constitutive element of evolving movement understandings, aspirations, and strategic action’ (McCann 1998a: 84). In the post-colonial era, the law has become an increasingly prominent arena of social movement activities in Hong Kong. It is the purpose of...

  9. 5 Defining Hong Kong as an Emerging Protest Space: The Anti-Globalisation Movement
    (pp. 91-116)
    Khun Eng Kuah-Pearce

    As we march into the twenty-first century, there have been several new forces that have revolutionised the world that we live in, culminating in a changing sense of social awareness and an emerging sense of social responsibility. Along with this, the process of globalisation in the corporate, political and social arenas is advancing, and this has had a great impact on the people within these different arenas.

    Globalisation has resulted in the dominance of power in the hands of several global key players, creating big global brands and niche markets for the anointed few large corporate players.² This is particularly...

  10. 6 ‘Old Working Class’ Resistance in Capitalist China: A Ritualised Social Management (1995-2006)
    (pp. 117-134)
    Jean-Louis Rocca

    Since the middle of the 1990s, industrial restructuring has led to a high level of labour unrest among the workers of state-owned and collective enterprises.¹ China scholars have paid attention to this phenomenon, attempting to interpret the reactions of workers and to evaluate the consequences of labour unrest on the political scene. These analyses are based on two assumptions. First, they assume that the marketisation of the Chinese economy brought the condition of urban workers closer to the one of migrant workers. In urban areas, the two groups are merging into a single working class (Chen 2000; Lau 1997; Lee...

  11. 7 Justifying the New Economic and Social Order: The Voice of a Private Entrepreneur
    (pp. 135-154)
    Gilles Guiheux

    Social movements take place in historical, economical, social and cultural contexts that should all be taken into account. They are compelling forces that vary from one country to another, and from one historical moment to another. They are shaped by the institutional structures and the ideological arrangements of social actors. In the sociology literature, the most useful tool linking social movements and the overall political system is the political opportunities theory (McAdam, McCarthy & Zald 1996). Most authors underline the key role of the state and its allies in shaping opportunities. Tarrow (1996) distinguishes four main types of opportunities that play...

  12. 8 The Rise of Migrant Workers’ Collective Actions: Toward a New Social Contract in China
    (pp. 155-178)
    Chloé Froissart

    Studies of Chinese society and politics have outlined how legalisation, that is the governmental project to promote a rule by law, has abetted the rise of rights claims in China. As recent as the 1990s, both peasants and state workers started to rely on newly enacted regulations to defend their rights, resorting to actions ranging from litigations to sitins and demonstrations (Lee 2002; Gallagher 2005; O’Brien & Li 2006). Although migrants from the countryside are known in Chinese cities as a new working class whose rights are commonly violated, they long kept themselves out of popular contention. These past few years,...

  13. 9 Grassroots Activism and Labour Electoral Politics under Chinese Rule, 1997-2008
    (pp. 179-204)
    Ming K. Chan

    The past eleven years witnessed many twists and turns in Hong Kong labour politics after the British colony’s 1997 retrocession to become the PRC’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). As its colonial polity was transformed into a partially democratic self-governing SAR, 1997 yielded space for grassroots political participation. Since 1985, there have been eight rounds of Legislative Council (Legco) elections in three phases: first, the functional constituency indirect elections introduced in 1985; second, the directly elected geographical constituency seats added in 1991; and third, the HKSAR Legco elections in 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2008. This chapter will delineate unionists’...

  14. 10 Hong Kong’s Trade Unions as an Evolving Social Organisation and Their Prospects for the Future
    (pp. 205-226)
    Sek Hong Ng and Olivia Ip

    Workers come together in trade unions largely for the purpose of acting in concert to protect and advance their pay, job security and other occupational interests in the workplace. Such an ‘industrial consciousness’ about common job interests shared by the employees is hence often narrow in scope, being localised and economical and sectional in nature. It is sustained by a shared perception of conflicting interests vis-à-vis the employer or management. However, trade unions often also subscribe to a philosophy or spirit of association that is ideological or quasi-ideological – betraying, characteristically, a vision of their social mission and yearning for...

  15. 11 Non-governmental Feminist Activism in The People’s Republic of China: Communicating Oppositional Gender Equality Knowledge
    (pp. 227-244)
    Cecilia Milwertz and Wei Bu

    Can a new wave of the women’s movement be identified among the emerging social movements in contemporary China? According to the historian Wang Zheng (1998) not only does a new women’s movement indeed exist in reform period China, but this movement is also nationwide in scope, is launched by women themselves, and is ‘one of the most significant things happening in contemporary China’. A women’s movement constitutes ‘the conscious collective activities of women [and men] fighting for feminist goals’ (Dahlerup 1986), while feminism can be defined as ‘... the critical examination of gender relations from the position of protest against...

  16. 12 The Hong Kong Catholic Church: A Framing Role in Social Movement
    (pp. 245-258)
    Beatrice Leung

    Relations between church and state have historically ranged from the relatively mild tensions in Western democracies (Dillon 1999; Robins & Robertson 1987; Moyer 1990; Hanson 1987) to the fundamental conflicts over authority found in authoritarian, especially communist states (Hanson 1980; Stehle 1987; Leung 1992; Weigel 1992; Goodstadt 1996). Ideological incompatibilities and cultural differences led to repeated clashes of authority in communist China between those who sought atheist communism and those who held religious beliefs (Ramet & Ramet 1993; Treadgold 1973). Problems involving the Catholic Church are more complex because its hierarchical structure posed extra challenges to the omniscience of the ruling Communist...

  17. 13 Religiosity and Social Movements in China: Divisions and Multiplications
    (pp. 259-284)
    David A. Palmer

    To include religion in a discussion of emerging social movements in China would seem to be a natural thing to do: after all, one could argue that in China, the social movements with the greatest numbers of followers, the most efficient mobilising ability, and the greatest capacity for resistance to government repression are religious ones. From the underground churches to Tibetan and Muslim movements to Falun Gong, organised popular resistance in China has frequently taken religious form since the late twentieth century.

    And yet, an uncritical application of the sociological concept of the ‘social movement’, with its emphasis on conflict...

  18. Contributors
    (pp. 285-286)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 287-308)
  20. Index
    (pp. 309-312)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 313-314)