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[Excerpt] This article elucidates connections between two strategies of transnational social movements—external pressure and local mobilization—and two potential outcomes—paternalism and psychological empowerment. Application of this theoretical framework to the nascent Chinese labor movement indicates that an overreliance on an external-pressure approach results in paternalism, thereby precluding psychological empowerment for aggrieved actors and potentially inhibiting movement growth. Conversely, strategies that relegate external support to a secondary role and privilege local mobilization are more likely to result in psychological empowerment. In this study, I argue that psychological empowerment is a prerequisite for the emergence of a worker-based movement in China. Many studies of cooperation between movement actors from the global North and South have seen this relationship as essentially unproblematic. I begin to problematize the inherent power inequalities between the two sets of actors and will theorize the implications for movement emergence in Southern countries.


Suggested Citation
Friedman, E. (2009). External pressure and local mobilization: Transnational activism and the emergence of the Chinese labor movement [Electronic version]. Mobilization, 14(2), 199-218.

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© San Diego State University Press. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.