Popular contention and its impact in Rural China

Kevin J. O'BRIEN, Lianjiang LI

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Protest outcomes in rural China are typically an outgrowth of interaction between activists, sympathetic elites, targets, and the public. Popular agitation first alerts concerned officials to poor policy implementation and may prompt them to take corrective steps. As a result of participating in contention, certain activists feel empowered and become more likely to take part in future challenges, whereas others feel disillusioned and lapse into passivity. In the course of observing collective action, some onlookers are sensitized to protesters' concerns and public opinion is affected. Without popular action, better implementation, biographical change, and effects on the public would not emerge, but nor would they without involvement from above. Studying the impact of this protest thus sheds light on two issues that have long troubled students of contentious politics: (a) how to get a grip on indirect, mediated consequences; and (b) how to think about causality when change is a result of popular action as well as openings provided by sympathetic elites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-259
Number of pages25
JournalComparative Political Studies
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

For helpful comments, we would like to thank Maria Edin, Sidney Tarrow, Stig Thøgersen, Kevin Wallsten, and the anonymous reviewers. Special note should be made of Prof. Yu Jianrong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who kindly shared some interview transcripts. Generous financial support was provided by the Asia Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Research and Writing Program of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and Hong Kong Baptist University.

Keywords

  • Collective action
  • Contention
  • Implementation
  • Peasants
  • Protest

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  • Popular Contention and its Impact in Rural China

    O’BRIEN, K. J. & LI, L., 28 Jan 2009, Contemporary Chinese Society and Politics. KIPNIS, A., TOMBA, L. & UNGER, J. (eds.). 1 ed. Routledge, Vol. 4. p. 121-142 22 p. (Critical Concepts in Asian Studies).

    Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review

  • Popular Contention and its Impact in Rural China

    O’BRIEN, K. J. & LI, L., 29 Sep 2009, Politics of Modern China. ZHENG, Y., LU, Y. & WHITE, L. T. III. (eds.). 1 ed. Routledge, Vol. 3. (Critical Issues in Modern Politics).

    Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review

  • 中國農村的民眾抗爭活動及其影響

    Translated title of the contribution: Popular Contention and its Impact in Rural China歐博文 & 李連江, Jan 2009, 中外名學者論21世紀初的中國. 熊景明 & 關信基 (eds.). Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, p. 657-676 20 p.

    Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review

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