Social protest has been increasingly prevalent in China since the early 1980s despite the restrictions on the freedom of speech and association. Groups of Chinese citizens, from unsophisticated villagers to state-owned enterprise workers and students, have been staging protests across the country to air their grievances and seek redress. The routinization of social protests has attracted international media coverage as China has a storied history of mass movements.
This essay attempts to discuss the trend and the underlying causes of social protests in China. Furthermore, examples of recent protests would be analysed to illustrate the implication of the upsurge in social protests in China.
2. Definition of social protest
“Social protest is one form of social movement” (Tong & Lei, 2014). It can be defined as a form of political expression that seeks to bring about social or political change by influencing the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of the public or the policies of an organization or institution (Mcleod, 2011).
It may take various forms, be it in covert or overt manner, for instance, demonstrations, civil disobedience and lobbying. Social protest provides the avenue for political participation and expression, and stirs up social changes and the democratization of some authoritarian regimes, especially in places with strong and vibrant civil society. Many of the protests that take place in the contemporary world tend to challenge the existing political regime or mainstream institutions in the pursuit of collective interests and fundamental human rights.
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Wines,M. (2009). Civic-Minded Chinese Find a Voice Online. The New York Times, Retrieved from
Wright, T. (2013). Protest as participation: China's local protest movements. World Politics Review. Retrieved from
Qin , S. (2008). Bridge Under Water: The Dilemma of the Chinese Petition System. China Research Center China Currents, 7(1), Retrieved from http://www.chinacenter.net/bridge-under-water-the-dilemma-of-the-chinese-petition-system/
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