Runya Qiaoan: presentation of dissertation
13 December 2017 13:30 – 15:00
the closing session of this bountiful season of Research meetings will present Runya Qiaoan’s dissertation
David Talks to Goliath: non-governmental organizations’ policy advocacy in China.
Runya’s lecture will take place on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 1.30 pm in U34
Abstract: The general assumption of civil society in China is that it is insignificant or almost non-existent. However, the recent development of the Chinese civil society might challenge this conventional view. In the past decade, Chinese non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have achieved significant success in their policy advocacy attempt, including policy and law changes on the national level. Why can small civil society organizations have such a big policy impact in an authoritarian state? In this research, I draw insights from the cultural pragmatic theory of social performance and social movement theory on framing to advance our knowledge of NGOs’ communicative power in China. I argue that behind a successful policy advocacy is the mechanism of cultural resonance. Chinese NGOs’ skillful transplant of the symbolic codes that Chinese government identifies with into their performance leads to the cultural resonance, which contributes to their success. While former studies on Chinese civil society tend to explain the success or failure of NGOs’ interaction with the state through an institutional perspective, this research investigates how culture and meaning function in this interaction. Besides, this study expands the social performance framework by emphasizing the role of the audience, and it adds to the framing theories by highlighting the constraints of cultural background.