Popular Contention and its Impact in Rural China
Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 38, No. 3, pp. 235-259, April 2005
25 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2008
Protest outcomes in rural China are typically an outgrowth of interaction between activists, sympathetic elites, targets and the wider 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, while others feel disillusioned and lapse into passivity. In the course of observing collective action, some onlookers are sensitized to protester's 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 protest in rural China thus sheds light on two issues that have long troubled students of contentious politics: 1) how to get a grip on indirect, mediated consequences, and 2) how to think about causality when change is a result both of popular action and openings provided by sympathetic elites.
Keywords: China, protest, outcomes, contention, rural
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