China Since Tiananmen: Middle-Class Mobilization

Issue Date July 2009
Volume 20
Issue 3
Page Numbers 29-32
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Some of the many China stories to attract attention recently have involved NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) protests by largely middle class crowds gathering to demand a greater say in urban development plans. This article argues that such protests a) are a significant addition to the already complex landscape of Chinese collective action (and signal a shift in some quarters from worrying about obstacles to modernization to worrying about the social costs of such modernization); but b) should not be interpreted as suggesting China’s imminent democratization (simply because restive middle classes have contributed to the end of authoritarian rule elsewhere).

About the Author

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is professor of history at the University of California, Irvine. His books include China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (2010) and Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink (2020). He is a cofounder of “The China Beat,” which strives to bridge the gap between academic and journalistic discussions of the PRC. 

View all work by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom