Migration and Popular Resistance in Rural China: Wukan and Beyond

Lu, Yao; Zheng, Wenjuan; Wang, Wei

This study draws on a case study of Wukan and interviews with migrants and peasants in other sites to examine how migration shapes popular resistance in migrant-sending communities (i.e. rural China). Findings demonstrate multidimensional roles played by migrants and returned migrants who act as a vehicle of informational and ideological transmission and at times directly participate in or even lead rural resistance in origin communities. Both the transmission and participation processes foster political consciousness and action orientations among peasants. The importance of migrants is exemplified in the Wukan protests but is also found in other settings under study. In general, migrants represent a latent political force that acts upon serious grievances back home. The findings provide a useful lens for understanding the diffusion of popular resistance and the linkage between urban and rural activism in China.

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The China Quarterly

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December 10, 2019