Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Irving L. Markovitz

Subject Categories

Political Science


social movement in China, Women's movement


The absence of contentious performance has led scholars to question the existence of social movements and to agree with the description of state-social group relations in China as state corporatism. However, defining social movement by confrontational performance is inappropriate to examine social organizing under repression regimes. Most western social movement theories assume that political space for organizing exists before the formation of social movement. My research challenges this assumption by extending the concept of political opportunity structure to conduct process-tracing comparisons of two women's and one lesbian groups' respective strategies when facing interferences from the central authorities. By conducting interviews with forty three major participants of women and lesbian organizing, including founders, activists, academic experts, governmental officers, and ministerial officers of ACWF, along with archive analysis, and participatory observations, this study looks specifically at the campaign against domestic violence from 1988 to 2013.

This research has found that the political space is not assumed to be existed. Instead, it is created and expanded by women's advocacy groups. Three groups have shared experiences of revocation or failure of registration, cancellation of events, difficulty of fund raising, constantly being invited to have tea with security department etc. However, each group develops their own strategies to survive and to further expand their political spaces gradually. Most importantly, they carry on their advocacy work national wide. I argue under a repressive regime, these achievements are indeed confrontational in nature. Therefore, the aforementioned assumption of social movement theory should be reconsidered.