Deliberative Harmony?:Negotiating Family Conflicts during High-Risk Social Movements

Ruby LAI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsConference Paper (other)Other Conference Paperpeer-review


Political polarization not only threatens democracy but also disrupts family lives, causing rifts between family members with contrasting political orientations . This article examines how individuals negotiate politically driven family conflicts in a severely polarized and risk-laden context by focusing on the 2019 Anti-Extradition Bill Protest in Hong Kong—a high-risk protest that led to the hostile division of the pro- and anti-government factions, merging political identity with social identity, and dividing the territory along a single political cleavage . Based on the data collected through in-depth interviews conducted between 2020 and 2021 with self-identified protest participants, this article illustrates the impact of the protest movement on family relationships and identifies the strategies deployed by the participants and their family members to resolve political discordance. The findings demonstrate that the pernicious effect of political polarization and the protest penetrated the domestic realm and influenced everyday family life to a varying degree, depending on the family lifecycle, relationship quality, and the political biography of family members . Individuals employed a repertoire of practices, such as creating relational buffers, building self-disclosing dialogues, and establishing reflexive consensus to deescalate confrontations, restore intimacy, and contain political risk . This article unravels the influence of social movement on personal and familial biography by illustrating how individuals rearticulated family relationships and reinvented relational practices that consolidated and redefined the prevailing family culture in times of political crisis . It also provides a nuanced analysis of the ways in which individuals alleviate intense antagonism and overcome polarization in the domestic arena, and highlights how structural and relational constraints, such as changing socio-political circumstances and familial power dynamics, may obstruct deliberative communication and reconciliation on the interpersonal and societal levels
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023
EventXX ISA World Congress of Sociology: Resurgent Authoritarianism: The Sociology of New Entanglements of Religions, Politics, and Economies - Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 25 Jun 20231 Jul 2023
Conference number: XX


ConferenceXX ISA World Congress of Sociology: Resurgent Authoritarianism: The Sociology of New Entanglements of Religions, Politics, and Economies
Abbreviated titleISA 2023 World Congress
Internet address


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