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Working paper: Trouble-making in hospitals (yinao) after 2014

Sascha Klotzbücher

Analyzing “contentious performances” of so-called “trouble-making in hospitals” (naoyi闹医 bzw. 医闹 yinao) after medical accidents, this paper introduces political sensitivity as an overseen factor explaining how to frame political claims in a political repressive environment.
Using photos and non-text content of the blog entries in the Wickedonna database of 2015-16, I analyze how people make claims for compensations in hospitals. From the perspectives of those who are governed, political sensitivity is the protester‘s internalized ability to frame contentious performances in a way that political claim and protests do not look like political protests. Re-framing their protest as a performance a funeral ritual, protesters leave behind the politically weak position and they activate social recognition with new social and ritual actions. They empower themselves as loud, but respected mourning family members.
In contrast to traditional forms of “trouble-making” (nao) and violence, this tactical transformation of protests into “contentious performances” (Charles Tilly) of rituals of mourning and self-victimization provides new script, repertoire, and requisites for their collective actions. As a spectacle of submission and filial piety known, these collective actions manipulate intensive emotions and these actions are very hard to oppress. Protesters empower themselves with (1) a highly gendered and socially respected script of a victim where (2) requisites like the coffin or the dead body make them untouchable, and (3) the hospital as a public space far from the political boundaries becomes the exclusive stage for this performed loud funeral ritual with silent political contents. In this spectacular performance, there are a few key claim makers, but (4) bystanders and supporters are separated as the watching spectators. This separation into the performers and audience decreases the risk of criminalization of the majority of participants, but together as group of protesters they unfold their maximum collective disruptive power.
Confronting with social, moral and consequently de-politicized elements of objects especially when it comes to connective action and dissemination, this paper discusses the implications for the study of contentious politics and political event analysis.

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften
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ÖFOS 2012
602045 Sinologie
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