The Role of Social Protests in Environmental Governance in Hangzhou

  • Mattias Burell
  • Oscar Almén
Part of the ARI - Springer Asia Series book series (ARI, volume 7)


This chapter examines the consequences of social protests for environmental governance in China. Environmental protection is a policy area where the party state has allowed civil society to play an increasingly important role. Chinese citizens can take part in state-sanctioned forms of political participation, but one of the most important ways they can influence policy is by protesting. If we are to understand environmental governance in China, we must study the impact of such protests. Students of social movements in China have made great efforts to understand what explains protest success in that country. The authors contend that, in order to understand environmental governance, we must look at all the different outcomes of a social protest. In most cases a protest elicits at least some concessions from the authorities, even when the protesters themselves perceive it as a failure. This study examines urban environmental governance by looking at the varying outcomes of three different waves of environmental protest in Hangzhou. Protests may lead to the development of new institutional tools such as dialogue platforms, or involve external actors like courts or NGOs. Through these mechanisms, citizen protests form a new and important element in China’s fragmented governance system.


Environmental protests Social movements Waste incineration Environmental governance Hangzhou NGOs 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mattias Burell
    • 1
  • Oscar Almén
    • 2
  1. 1.Hankuk University of Foreign StudiesSeoul, SouthKorea (Republic of)
  2. 2.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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