AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 730

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Session 730: Social Movements and Social Networks

The Evolution of Korea’s Social Movement Networks (1980 - 1992)
Jung-eun Lee, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Both the political opportunity structure and the resource mobilization theorists advocate the importance of social networks in shaping social movements. Within a movement, linkages among different social movement organizations(SMOs), among individual activists, and between SMOs and activists are likely to be established. Pre-existing social networks are also necessary to generate and sustain protests. Nonetheless, the networks between the established SMOs have received less scholarly attention than interpersonal networks between individuals that lead to protests or SMO building. I address this problem and argue that the degrees of social networks in terms of network ties and mediators’ roles ought to have different consequences in the evolution of protests. By analyzing the case of Korea’s prodemocracy movement (1980-1992), I argue that an absence of network ties and mediators (i.e., network closure) encourages single protests and precludes interorganizational alliances. In addition, my findings show that an increase in network ties and mediators will increase collaborative protests between different SMOs. As important, my research reveals that the process of democratic transition had an important effect on social movement networks: while more centralized networks emerge after the liberalization within an authoritarian structure, movement networks become more polycentric and disperse after the democratic transition. Moreover, I argue that the centrality of the leading SMOs during the prodemocracy struggles that develop in the hierarchical, centralized network structure will decline in proportion to decentralization of networks. This changing pattern of movement networks has further implications on the later development of the social movement sector in Korea.

Engaging in World Social Forums: A Hit-and-Run Raid or Sustained Networks?
Suk-ki Kong, Seoul National University, South Korea

This paper will explore why and how the Korean social movements engaged in and left from World Social Forums (WSFs) so quickly. This paper begins with focusing on the diffusion of the WSFs worldwide and differentiates the differences in the WSFs held in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Second, it narrows down its focus to concrete local processes in Asian and Korean social forums. The comparative study of different social forums at multilevel helps us to figure out what challenges and opportunities are laid for Global Justice Movements (GJMs) as well as local social movements. Given these, I highlight the ‘bridging’ role of transnational social movements between global North and South. I also examine the Korean experiences in the WSFs with social movement perspectives such as political opportunity structure, networks, and framing. While transnational social movement approach points out various obstacles to the Korean social movements engaged in the world and regional social forums, globalization from below approach highlight opportunities for them. Organizing the national social forum for themselves could empower them to develop a robust network with transnational groups. In sum, I argue that international factors such as the WSFs and neoliberalism, whether positive or negative, have forced the Korean social movements not only converged in the GJMs but also expand their activism into regional or transnational arenas. The Korean social movements are straddling the border between a hit-and-run raid and sustained networks through the engagement in the WSFs.

Resolution of Revolutions in Contemporary Asia
Val M. Johnston, Independent Scholar, USA

All revolutionary movements today follow the tactical formulas of Mao Zedong to one degree or another. The purposes of the movements, however, vary widely: from insurgency to separatism, from drives for sovereign independence to feelings of disenfranchisement, from religious dissatisfaction to concerns over social justice. With these distinctions as an analytic framework, this paper then examines four revolutionary movements that have ended in Asia in recent years with four distinct resolutions: national government success in quelling the movement (Sri Lanka), revolutionary success in taking over the government (Nepal), successful separatism due to international assistance (East Timor), and successful resolution of issues through compromise (Aceh). The paper concludes with lessons learned from these individual cases and applications for ongoing revolutions in Asia (southern Thailand, southern Philippines, Papua, Naxalites in India, Burmese ethnic groups, some Chinese ethnic groups, Islamic "jihadist" movements in several nations) and implications for the international community in the areas of economic interaction, bilateral policy, regional organizations, and military/law enforcement engagement.