The Routinization of Liminality: The Persistence of Activism Among China’s Red Guard Generation

  • Guobin YangEmail author
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS)


The long-term biographical consequences of political activism, raises two questions: What remains of the political passions after social movements subside and why does this occur? Scholars have pointed to the transformative power of participation in social movements. Some participants may experience a transformation in values and beliefs, while others have formed enduring social networks and sustained social activism (Rupp and Taylor 1987; Fantasia 1988; McAdam 1988, 1989; Calhoun 1994; Whittier 1995, 1997; Lichterman 1996; Robnett 1997). Such transformation is related to the liminal features of movement experience (Yang 2000). The greater the contrast between pre-participation structural embeddings and the leveling effects unleashed in collective action, the bigger the liminal effect, and the deeper the transformative power of participation. Similarly, the deeper the level of activist involvement, the stronger the liminal effect and the greater its transformative power (Yang 2000). In Griffin’s words, “highly charged events” shape consciousness and memory particularly strongly (2004, 544).


Political Activism Social Movement Transformative Power Cultural Revolution Ordinary Life 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Barnard CollegeNew YorkUSA

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