When Speech Totally Fails, Resistance Takes Place: With Special Reference to Youth Resistance in China

Kaiju CHEN, Weiqiu CHEN


Social harmony depends on the citizens’ prosocial attitudes and behaviors that presuppose people’s high eudaimonic living, where individuals tend to pursue intrinsic goals and values, behave autonomously, volitionally or consensually, and show mindfulness. Nevertheless, such harmony is the optimal state of public administration (yet never easily attainable), for the smooth and harmonious running of social life is interrupted at intervals throughout history in almost any society, in the form of various sorts of resistance: conjunct complaints, strikes, sit-ins, demonstrations, riots and uprisings/revolutions. Just as more and more societies claim to have entered the post-modern era, which is characterized by eudaimonic living in terms of surplus material supply rather than poverty, pan-entertainment rather than somberness, information explosion rather than data shortage, they have to address the old-fashioned embarrassing ailment again: a series of unsettling youth resistance movements that currently are looming worldwide. Applying cultural theories on speech right, with focus on youth resistance, especially that in contemporary China since 1989, we find: a) default of effective speech/articulation, the not-yet-in-power youth tend to launch resistance motivated by two causes: the deterioration of living (especially due to oppressive corruptions), and/or the perception of the deterioration of the social system which indicates loss of hope; b) the solution lies in the acceptance of the rationality underlying such non-discursive collective “representation”: affordable amelioration of their living for the first type; for the far more complicated second type, incorporation of their appeals to avoid continuing subversive mobilizations and movements. While effective discursive channel of articulation contributes to release of indignation and elimination of the powder-keg effect, hence an ideal solution to all sorts of resistance, in information era such articulation channel should be open to the youth who is ascendant in IT competence.


Eudaimonic living; Justice; Powder-keg effect; Articulation; Incorporation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/%25x


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