Mobilizing resources in networked social movements: cases in Hong Kong and Taiwan

  • Jieying Wang

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The study examines social movement resource mobilization in the age of the network society. In the traditional model of Resource Mobilization Theory (RMT), material and human resources, as well as the legitimacy gained for a movement from the mass media, play crucial roles in mobilization. In the contemporary epoch of informationalism and network society, a large variety of instant communication technologies penetrate everyday life, bringing a lifestyle characterized by the intensive integration between technologies and social life. By studying the cases of two recent social movements, which witnessed the networking of different organizations/individuals and their wide use of new technologies, this research tries to identify what sorts of movement resources are employed in the mobilization process, and what the resource mobilization process is like in the paradigm of informationalism and network society. Regarding the traditional RMT, scholars identified the missing link between the movement side and the general public in terms of empathy arousal. Despite that political opportunity process theorists largely added contextual elements, they concentrated on mainstream political institutional change, but still neglecting the role of historical and social culture, and people’s role as active agency. In this study, the author also integrates the cultural aspects as a type of immaterial resource to produce a broader look into movement resources. The two cases investigated are: the anti-moral-and-national-education movement (anti-M&N) in Hong Kong and the anti-media-monopoly movement (anti-monopoly) in Taiwan. This research was conducted using a qualitative approach, employing in-depth interviews and archive study as the major methods. Results show that the traditional resources, such as resource-rich movement organizations, professionals and those possessing fruitful movement experiences are still indispensable. However, it is noteworthy that technologically adept activists have gained an increasingly important position. Their tech-savvy capabilities make them at once information archivist, movement message translator and disseminator. In addition, their heavy use of online platforms has facilitated groups which lack resources to “out-source the provision of resources to a rhizomatic movement network. In this sense, with networking taking place between those who possess resources and the tech-savvy activists, between the core and the rhizomatic participants, a networked alliance has been formed as an important resource to today’s social movements. In traditional resource mobilization theory, the mass media was regarded as an important source to legitimize the movement. In these cases, besides the legitimacy gained from certain types of mass media, the activists also presented the movement’s messages strategically, by bridging the movements with social expectation and embedding in the historical context. By this means, the activists drew wider attention to anxieties about identity. In the light of the fact that Hong Kong and Taiwan are in the eye of the storm against the backdrop of China’s rising power, the issue of identity anxiety in these two societies may provide a direction for further research. Keywords: resource mobilization, network society, Hong Kong, Taiwan
    Date of Award22 Aug 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAlice Y L LEE (Supervisor)

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Information networks
    • Mass media
    • Social aspects
    • China
    • Hong Kong
    • Taiwan
    • Internet
    • Social movements
    • Social mobility

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