Lasting Struggle: Ideology, Frame Transformation, and Collective Action of the Chinese Falun Gong Movement

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Cheris Shun-Ch. CHAN, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
As one of the most popular qigong groups in China, the Falun Gong captured the world’s attention and inspired voluminous scholarly research during its tumultuous times in the 1990s. However, it has lost public support and drawn less attention from the media and academia in recent years, despite having undergone a striking transformation. The FLG of the 1990s emphasized their peaceful nature especially in demonstrations before and during the crackdown from the Chinese state in 1999. In contrast, FLG followers in the 2010s are unashamed of their “radical” image and publicly display their mission of overthrowing the Chinese Communist Party. Based on a social movement framework, this project seeks to understand changes in the FLG by examining the interplay of micro and macro factors in the process. Using the FLG as a case, this research is aimed at unpacking and theorizing the evolution of a quasi-religious movement in relation to the movement’s ideological content, the role of its charismatic leader, the actions of the state authorities, and the immediate socio-political forces. In particular, this project traces the transformation of FLG’s collective actions and the ways they framed their actions over two decades from the mid-1990s to the mid -2010s. It identifies changes in their collection action frames over three periods of time: prior to the crackdown (1996-1999), during the crackdown (1999-2000), and after the crackdown (2000 – present). I examine how the FLG mobilized different ideological ideas to construct different action frames under different political contexts, and why their collective actions have turned radical after the crackdown period.