From discontent to protest : Individual-level causes of the 1989 pro-democracy movement in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

11 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-249
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes


Based on a secondary analysis of a survey involving more than 2,500 urban working residents in China, this study tests several individual-level causes of protest behavior suggested by the research on protest in the West. The timing of the survey, just three months before the 1989 massive upheaval in China, makes the study especially valuable. Results from path analysis show that age, education, and Communist Party membership have both direct and indirect impacts on protest, in an expected way. Income has only an indirect effect, whereas the impact of gender is not significant because the direct and indirect effects counter each other. Occupation does not make a difference. In addition, discontent with economic reforms, distrust in the government, aspirations for Western democracy, and disillusionment with Communist ideology all significantly enhance protest behavior. Postmaterialist values, which contribute positively to political protest in the West, play a suppressor role in China's context, which offers interesting implications for comparative research on public opinion and political behavior. © 1993 World Association for Public Opinion Research.