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Protest Dialectics


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Contents and AbstractsIntroduction: Protest Dialectics and South Korea's Democracy Movement chapter abstract

The introductory chapter lays out the empirical and theoretical justifications for the study. It focuses on the long historical process of democratization in South Korea. The introduction also discusses limitations of the sociological literature on the relationship between repression and mobilization and argues that the present study offers a more nuanced understanding of social movement development in highly repressive contexts. It ends with a summary of the empirical chapters.

1The Making of the Authoritarian State chapter abstract

Chapter 1 tracks the transformation of President Park Chung Hee's leadership as he shifted from ruling within the parameters of a democratic system to establishing a formal authoritarian structure in 1972. The chapter discusses his pursuit of national security and economic development that led to two important policy decisions in the 1960s: Korea's participation in the Vietnam War and normalization of relations with Japan. Intent on pushing through his policies, Park Chung Hee reverted to using the military to put down student demonstrations, which reflected his increasing reliance on coercive tactics to silence criticisms of his policies. This chapter shows how this authoritarian tendency culminated in the Yusin Constitution in 1972.

2Consolidating Authoritarianism chapter abstract

Chapter 2 discusses the repressive structures that undergirded Park's dictatorship including the military and the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. In addition, based on a fairly nuanced and evolving repression strategy, Park consolidated the authoritarian system by enacting additional political control laws that allowed him to ignore basic rights and bypass habeas corpus codified in his own Yusin Constitution. The promulgation of presidential Emergency Decrees, along with the National Security Law and the Anti-Communist Law, reflected a greater capacity for structural repression. This chapter presents a temporal analysis of aggregate protest data that shows that increasing state repression had a profoundly negative impact on the ability of dissidents to stage public protests.

3The Rise and Fall of the Student Movement chapter abstract

Chapter 3 explains how students, based on a proud history of political engagement, made multiple attempts to organize a nationwide movement against Park Chung Hee's government. The state, consequently, targeted the student movement in recognition of the powerful potential of students to galvanize social change. Increasing state repression was fueled by Park's determination to not let large student protests develop into the kind of "revolution" that brought down Syngman Rhee's government in 1960. This chapter shows that the consequences of repression were dire for students as the arrests and incarceration of thousands of student protestors led to the rapid demobilization of their movement at two critical junctures in 1971 and 1974.

4The Emergence of Christian Activism chapter abstract

Chapter 4 discusses the emergence of Christian activists who replaced students as central leaders of the movement after 1975. The participation of Christians in anti-government protests was critical to the survival of the democracy movement and for various reasons discussed in the chapter-including symbolic power, organizational resources, and international connections-the state was less effective at repressing them than other secular groups.

5The Politicization of Journalists and Lawyers chapter abstract

Chapter 5 explores how and why journalists and lawyers became key contributors to the democracy movement in the latter part of the 1970s. While each addressed different aspects of Park Chung Hee's authoritarian government, both groups came to the fore of the movement as the severity of state repression reached new heights. The chapter shows that key state repression strategies-the advertisement repression of newspapers in 1974, the demobilization of students in 1974, the People's Revolutionary Party case in 1975-motivated the politicization of new movement actors.

6Tactical Adaptation and the Rise of Human Rights chapter abstract

Chapter 6 argues that state repression unintentionally motivated the development of protest strategies and the movement's ideology. Because different groups relied on tactics that were specific to their groups' cultural norms, the demobilization of the student movement and the entry of new movement actors altered the overall character of the movement. Similarly, while the initial goals of the movement in the early 1970s revolved around democratic and economic reforms, new actors further diversified the issues that were raised in anti-government protests including adopting the human rights discourse.

7Repression and the Formation of Alliances chapter abstract

Chapter 7 explores an additional unintended consequence of state repression. The diversification of movement actors provided the opportunity to create alliances and coalitions which in turn strengthened the solidarity of the movement. Movement solidarity, the chapter argues, was primarily driven by the repression strategies the state employed against dissenting groups. The impact of outgroup contention on ingroup solidarity is evident in the formation of loose-based alliances between diverse sectors of the democracy movement. These informal alliances, in turn, led to formal coalitional organizations that brought together Christians, oppositional politicians, intellectuals, and students.

Conclusion: The Legacy of the 1970s Democracy Movement chapter abstract

The concluding chapter broadens the analytic lens by discussing the legacy of the 1970s democracy movement for South Korea's democratization. Although the Yusin system ended with Park Chung Hee's death in 1979, social movements active during Park's reign continued to have consequences for the democracy movement in the 1980s. This chapter shows how the movement in the 1980s inherited from the 1970s several important pillars of mobilization, including a generation of leaders who came of age during the Yusin period, organizational models, and master symbols defining the movement's ideology.

About the Author

Paul Y. Chang is Associate Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. Professor Chang's research focuses on Korean democratization and Christianity in Korea.


"Protest Dialectics shows how the dramatic protest of the 1960s transformed during the repressive era of 1970s South Korea, establishing a foundation for effective activism. Chang offers new insight into how democracy movements find ways to continue in hard times, and to reemerge when circumstances change. To understand democratic transitions, we must pay attention to long struggles for reform, even when effective action seems unlikely." -- David S. Meyer, University of California * Irvine *
"For all the high drama of movements at the peak of their mobilizing power, the seeds of these struggles almost invariably are sown earlier. The singular contribution of Paul Chang's book on the South Korean Democracy movement during the neglected decade of the 1970s is to lay bare those seeds like no scholar before him." -- Doug McAdam * Stanford University *
"This important book gives the 1970s democratization movement in South Korea the recognition it deserves. Chang shows that while the working-class movement was certainly a vital element, Christians and white-collar workers, particularly lawyers and journalists, gave rise to the discourse of human rights, forming the moral backbone of the democratization movement." -- Namhee Lee * University of California, Los Angeles *
"The book makes a strong contribution to the study of mobilization by demonstrating how repression can work while simultaneously inducing movement diversification and survival. Chang's pairing of quantitative and qualitative data show that protest counts are an insufficient indication of repression's effects on collective resistance. The findings also have important implications for the study of dissent under authoritarianism: as regimes become stronger and more repressive, they can also render civil society more contentious. Chang deserves praise for his highly readable rendering of the complex events at hand." -- Dana M. Moss * American Journal of Sociology *

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