East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

Jan 11 Workshop


Workshop on East Asia:
Politics, Economy and Society Presents

“Who Protests? Protester Characteristics and Differential Mechanisms behind Environmental Protests in China”

Jean Lin
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago
4:30-5:50pm, Tuesday
January 11, 2011
Pick Lounge
5828 South University Ave.

Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/
Student coordinator: Jean Lin (jeanlin@uchicago.edu)
Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao
The workshop is sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance, please contact the student coordinator in advance.

The intent of this study is to elucidate the nature of smaller-scale urban environmental protests in China, focusing on the role of individual protesters and their modes of protest mobilization. I examine different types of environmental action in China from passive, everyday forms of action such as recycling, to more proactive forms of action such as donating to environmental causes or actively participating in NGO-organized environmental activities, or complaint-filing. Using the 2003 Environmental Survey (conducted as part of the Chinese General Social Survey), I find that overall, education, environmental consciousness (ideology) and the role of the media (framing) are highly associated with the likelihood of individual action. Interestingly, different age groups that underwent different “life courses” during different political periods take different types of actions. The older age group (raised during Mao era) is more likely to take passive, more traditional forms of environmental action and not proactive action, whereas the younger age group (raised post-Mao in the reform era) is more prone to taking proactive actions such as filing environmental complaints rather than recycling. This indicates that with social, political, and economic change in China and its related civil society development, rights consciousness has been on the rise. The younger generation is aware of their environmental “rights”, but do not necessarily take actions to recycle.

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