The strategic and instrumental use of verbal violence by protesters: political swearing in Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Movement

Matthew Ming-tak Chew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

This is the first dedicated study on how verbal violence is strategically and instrumentally used in social movements. Its primary objective is to contribute to the emerging debate on protest violence. Its secondary objective is to enrich the interdisciplinary field of swearing research by identifying ‘political swearing.’ Based on data on Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Movement, I identify four major instrumental uses of political swearing: attacking enemies of the movement, mobilization and politicization, identity-building, and ‘personal political emotion work.’ I find that political swearing can directly hurt people and indirectly do so by initiating violent enchainment processes. I also find that political verbal violence yields instrumental utility for social movements. This study’s data include in-depth interviews with 30 informants, documentary and video data, and participant observation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Movement Studies
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jan 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Sociology of violence
  • swearing research
  • nonviolence
  • verbal violence
  • infrapolitics
  • Anti-Extradition Movement

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