Book

Becoming activists in global China (2019)

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Abstract

Becoming Activists in Global China is the first purely sociological study of the religious movement Falun Gong and its resistance to the Chinese state. The literature on Chinese protest has intensively studied the 1989 democracy movement while largely ignoring opposition by Falun Gong, even though the latter has been more enduring. This comparative study explains why the Falun Gong protest took off in diaspora and the democracy movement did not. Using multiple methods, Becoming Activists in Global China explains how Falun Gong's roots in proselytizing and its ethic of volunteerism provided the launch pad for its political mobilization. Simultaneously, diaspora democracy activists adopted practices that effectively discouraged grassroots participation. The study also shows how the policy goal of eliminating Falun Gong helped shape today's security-focused Chinese state. Explaining Falun Gong's two decades of protest illuminates a suppressed piece of Chinese contemporary history and advances our knowledge of how religious and political movements intersect.