- The People vs. Pollution: understanding citizen action against pollution in China
- The Journal of Contemporary China
- Volume | Issue number
- 19 | 63
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
Chinese pollution victims have increasingly started to resort to political and legal action to protect their interests. This paper analyzes such activism by studying how citizens identify the necessity to initiate action against pollution and by investigating the obstacles they meet when attempting to take action. The paper highlights the importance of state and intermediary institutions to aid citizens in understanding the seriousness of pollution and overcoming the obstacles they face. It shows, however, that often such aid is not available, and that state institutions when aligned with industrial interests restrict rather than support citizen action. When this occurs, citizen activism becomes an isolated affair, resulting in adversarial relations with state and industry, sometimes escalating to violence and repression of activists. The paper concludes that isolated activism forces a new look at concepts such as 'embeddedness' and 'rightful resistance' to capture citizen activism and contentious politics in China.
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