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Fighting the dragon and riding the wave of love and peace : how environmentalist groups in Hong Kong utilized the context of a social movement

Libertson, Frans LU (2016) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20161
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
This thesis examines the potential of society, and social movement in particular, as an agent of change for sustainability.

In August 2014 student activists initiated a sit-in strike outside of the Hong Kong government headquarters, as a protest against the non-democratic electoral system forced upon the city by China. The attempt by the police to disperse the crowd by using teargas had a reversed effect and produced multiple waves of mass support all over Hong Kong. The movement grew beyond a centralized control of any person or organization. The Umbrella Revolution, as the movement came to be known as, was more profound than merely a protest for universal suffrage. It was a dynamic and creative platform with several groups involved,... (More)
This thesis examines the potential of society, and social movement in particular, as an agent of change for sustainability.

In August 2014 student activists initiated a sit-in strike outside of the Hong Kong government headquarters, as a protest against the non-democratic electoral system forced upon the city by China. The attempt by the police to disperse the crowd by using teargas had a reversed effect and produced multiple waves of mass support all over Hong Kong. The movement grew beyond a centralized control of any person or organization. The Umbrella Revolution, as the movement came to be known as, was more profound than merely a protest for universal suffrage. It was a dynamic and creative platform with several groups involved, each with their own agenda.

The Umbrella Revolution provides a critical case study for sustainability science, as it comprises an opportunity to investigate the strategic benefits that social movements pose to environmentalist groups. The thesis takes on the Marxist ideas of interlinked oppression and cross-movement coalitions, to explore the synergies that occurred during the Umbrella Revolution between the majority of political groups and the minority of environmental activists. Using data from qualitative interviews with environmental activist groups, this thesis seeks to determine the effect of voicing environmental concerns during the time of the revolution.

The findings demonstrate that the environmentalist groups have benefitted from engaging with the Umbrella Revolution, as people have become more prone to take action and care for the environment, compared to prior the movement. However, the findings also demonstrate that the new support is not likely to originate from an increased environmental consciousness per say, but from a newly awakened overarching concern for the society. The findings indicate that the Umbrella Revolution was a major political awakening for the people of Hong Kong, as it fostered strong commitment and a shared sense of responsibility. The political awakening has facilitated the work of the environmentalist groups who now enjoy the benefits of a stronger support for their causes.

This thesis considers social movement coalitions to be an agent of change for sustainability. The study proves that it is beneficial for the work of an environmental movement to form an alliance with a social movement, as it provides strategic advantages. However, the study also proves that positive cross-movement coalition outcomes are not dependent on a successful reframing of the cause to align the participating groups. It may thus be generalized that a social movement constitutes a useful tool for environmental movement. (Less)
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author
Libertson, Frans LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Umbrella Revolution, social movements, cross-movement coalition, politicization, social movement abeyance, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2016:020
funder
SIDA
funder
The Right Livelihood Award Foundation
language
English
id
8879080
date added to LUP
2016-06-09 16:31:29
date last changed
2016-06-09 16:31:29
@misc{8879080,
  abstract     = {This thesis examines the potential of society, and social movement in particular, as an agent of change for sustainability.

In August 2014 student activists initiated a sit-in strike outside of the Hong Kong government headquarters, as a protest against the non-democratic electoral system forced upon the city by China. The attempt by the police to disperse the crowd by using teargas had a reversed effect and produced multiple waves of mass support all over Hong Kong. The movement grew beyond a centralized control of any person or organization. The Umbrella Revolution, as the movement came to be known as, was more profound than merely a protest for universal suffrage. It was a dynamic and creative platform with several groups involved, each with their own agenda.

The Umbrella Revolution provides a critical case study for sustainability science, as it comprises an opportunity to investigate the strategic benefits that social movements pose to environmentalist groups. The thesis takes on the Marxist ideas of interlinked oppression and cross-movement coalitions, to explore the synergies that occurred during the Umbrella Revolution between the majority of political groups and the minority of environmental activists. Using data from qualitative interviews with environmental activist groups, this thesis seeks to determine the effect of voicing environmental concerns during the time of the revolution.

The findings demonstrate that the environmentalist groups have benefitted from engaging with the Umbrella Revolution, as people have become more prone to take action and care for the environment, compared to prior the movement. However, the findings also demonstrate that the new support is not likely to originate from an increased environmental consciousness per say, but from a newly awakened overarching concern for the society. The findings indicate that the Umbrella Revolution was a major political awakening for the people of Hong Kong, as it fostered strong commitment and a shared sense of responsibility. The political awakening has facilitated the work of the environmentalist groups who now enjoy the benefits of a stronger support for their causes.

This thesis considers social movement coalitions to be an agent of change for sustainability. The study proves that it is beneficial for the work of an environmental movement to form an alliance with a social movement, as it provides strategic advantages. However, the study also proves that positive cross-movement coalition outcomes are not dependent on a successful reframing of the cause to align the participating groups. It may thus be generalized that a social movement constitutes a useful tool for environmental movement.},
  author       = {Libertson, Frans},
  keyword      = {Umbrella Revolution,social movements,cross-movement coalition,politicization,social movement abeyance,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Fighting the dragon and riding the wave of love and peace : how environmentalist groups in Hong Kong utilized the context of a social movement},
  year         = {2016},
}