SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Kunz, Leon Nelson (2021) Deliberative Democracy in Social Movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 20 November 2024.


This thesis explores conceptions and practices of democracy in Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, in order to reflect on broader questions of strategy, prefiguration, and deliberation. Both occupation movements were often compared to one another, not just by participants themselves, but also by local and international analysts who pointed to similarities in terms of underlying causes, organizational forms, and repertoires. However, the enactment of democracy in both movements has not yet been thoroughly compared. In both contexts activists experimented with “deliberative democracy,” a notion of democracy that emphasizes the importance of open, transparent, and rational communication amongst informed citizens to the political process. But despite these experiments and the democratic aspirations underpinning both movements, major decisions concerning their strategic direction were taken behind closed doors by a core leadership rather than in a bottom-up fashion. My thesis seeks to make sense of the contradictory fashion in which these movements enacted democracy by exploring how participants conceived and practiced democracy. I bring together and contribute to literatures on deliberative democracy, prefiguration, and performative politics. I demonstrate that the two movements not just voiced democratic demands vis-à-vis the state, but also constituted enactments of democracy in and of themselves. Democracy was put to practice through civil disobedience, contestations over deliberative backstage leadership structures, and the creation of diverse spaces of participation and deliberation in the occupation zones.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Julia Strauss
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2021 10:14

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item