Dogs and civil society in ChinaI really depend on other people's perspectives. As much as I try, I can't overcome the limitations of my own frame of reference.
Thanks for the second day in a row to Michael Harvey. He mentioned that he was going to use China's new one-dog policy and the protests that have followed as a case study of the formation of civil society.
That is a fantastic idea.
And it wouldn't have occurred to me. I had seen the headlines about the policy and the protests, but I had ignored the details, unable to see the implications for Chinese political culture. Michael saw those implications and thankfully taught me about them.
The Australian reported on the protests on Monday, 13 November.
Dog lovers arrested in rare Beijing protest
"IN an echo of the days when Chairman Mao denounced his foes as 'running dogs', hundreds of angry pet owners confronted the police in Beijing at the weekend to protest the regime's new 'one-dog policy'.
"Eighteen people were arrested in noisy scuffles as about 500 dog owners gathered in a rare unauthorised demonstration near Beijing Zoo...
"In cities all over China, dog lovers have been outraged as police have swept through districts killing unlicensed dogs and confiscating others...
"Most pets vanished during the cultural revolution, but there are now 550,000 registered dog owners in Beijing."
Even in this short report, there are real hints about the beginnings of an independent civil society: "hundreds of angry pet owners" "in cities all over China" "550,000 registered dog owners in Beijing"
If you find earlier news reports about the origins of the policy (like
China issues 'one dog' policy in Beijing from the Boston Globe) and more complete reports about the protests, you, too, can use this case to illustrate the concept of civil society.
Then, use examples from other places to do a comparative study. How, for instance, do these spontaneous expressions of public opinion compare with the protests in Oaxaca? or the ultra-nationalists' protests in Moscow? or the kidnappings in Nigeria's delta oil fields?
Oh, and if you can teach me something, please do so. Send me ideas and questions. Use the comments link at the bottom of each of these blog entries.