The dynamics of grassroots environmental protests in China: State-protest leader interactions and movement trajectories /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Lin, Yen-chun, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (185 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Dingxin Zhao Committee members: Terry Clark; Dan Slater.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:In this dissertation, I systematically investigate variations in environmental participation, as well as environmental movement trajectories and state response in China. In the first chapter, using environmental participation data from the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) 2003, I examine the socio-political context of environmental participation in China. I performed ordinal logistic regression analyses and found that variables related to levels of engagement (media and environmental consciousness score) were consistently the strongest predictors of both quotidian and issue-based forms of environmental participation. Interestingly, with the increase in age, respondents became less likely to participate in issue-based environmental action such as petitioning, but with the decrease in age, respondents were less likely to engage in quotidian environmental behavior such as recycling. I provide a contextual explanation---in the Chinese socio-political context, age cohorts often exhibit characteristics that correspond to distinct political generations. There are two distinct political periods experienced by respondents in this survey---Mao era (1943--1976) and the reform era (1978--present). During the two political periods, individuals were exposed to political-environmental values, and the concept of "man'' versus "nature'' differed greatly, thereby shaping environmental participation outcomes. This chapter sets the stage for the case studies in later chapters, which demonstrate how elderly communities took part in trash separation campaigns in addition to protesting against trash incinerators, while younger communities utilized a wide variety of legal channels to deal with the incinerator construction issue, but were not as sustainable in terms of overall environmental participation. All case studies demonstrated community members' savviness of environmental information as gathered from media sources, indicating an overall high level of engagement with media sources for such information.
Through ethnographic work and interviews with protesters, government officials, and activists in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the second chapter explores three urban community anti-incineration protest cases in Beijing. Contrary to movement strategy studies that neglect the role of "time'', I evaluate the timing and order of strategies and their effect on movement trajectories. I propose that we use the concept of "imprinting'' from organizational studies to consider the temporal relationship between movement stages, state-movement interactions, and state responses. To study the imprinting of protest strategies, we must think about the early stages of the movement and how these initial strategies were shaped by the structural context/environment. I found that imprints of initial social movement strategies can be seen in later relationships between the structure and the protest, as well as reflected in the nature of the protest itself, even after external structural conditions are altered.
The third chapter examines movement frames and frame mechanisms in an authoritarian context. Which frames are more effective and why? In examining protest-related documents, hotline recordings, and government statements, I explore the mechanisms of selected movement frames and rhetoric in the three community environmental movements in Beijing. I demonstrate the following: Firstly, there are ambiguities in what is "legitimate'' on the part of the state, as demonstrated through state response to environmental grievances addressed through institutional channels. Secondly, in all communities, two protest frames emerged: the "legal frame'' and the "science frame''. The science frame was found to be the more effective frame in that it better engaged with concrete official environmental rhetoric rather than ambiguous legal concepts. Thirdly, even though the science frame is more effective compared to the legal frame, science frames are not necessarily "safe frames''. Frames alone do not determine movement outcomes. Rather, they need to be utilized in conjunction with protest strategies. Lastly, I found that the mechanism of science frames is the facilitation of government-protest dialogue and interaction, and not the short-term outcome of the movement (safe or not). In addition, this prolonged interaction made possible by the science frame led to longer-term consequences where the state attempted to reverse previously negative reactions. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).