Environmental activism in urban China: the role of personal networks

Xie Lei

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


The study examines the characteristics of the Chinese environmental movement by looking into the roles played by leaders, activists and their individual networks in environmental NGOs. Looking into individual networks is a vital starting point to examine the dynamics of the Chinese environmental movement, its emergence, growth, and future development. Network analysis will pinpoint the relationships among social actors, while simultaneously identifying the dynamics of the environmental movement by examining the key features of individual networks. With the participation of ENGOs representing the emergence of Chinese civil society, the relationship between the government and civil society will be assessed. In addition, the study will also look into the degree of autonomy of Chinese civil society. Using connections is a characteristic of traditional Chinese society, it is also found as strategies adopted by environmental NGOs. This study will investigate whether the use of individual networks will be a long-term characteristic of Chinese society, or whether it only represents the feature of ENGOs in their early stage. Individual networks can function in three aspects, first they are crucial in institutionalizing Chinese ENGOs in the current policy. Second, individual networks play an important role in the formation of collective identity. And third they facilitate the formation of collective actions, which can be recognized as the formation of the social movement as a whole. Case study methodology will be used to examine how individual networks influence and function in the environmental movement in three urban areas in China.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Mol, Arthur, Promotor
Award date2 Nov 2007
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs9789085046813
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2007


  • urban environment
  • china
  • movement
  • networking
  • social activities
  • environmental policy
  • political movements


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