Diffusion of Democracy among Civil Society Actors in Guangdong Province
In recent years, a great number of studies have convincingly shown that diffusion influences states’ probability to democratise. The primary interest of most of these studies has been on how diffusion influences democracy at the national level. The effect of democratic diffusion on the local level has largely been neglected. This paper thus investigates how and to what extent diffusion influences the density and conflict orientation of non-governmental labour organisations (LNGOs), comprising a typical case of civil society groups channelling democratic freedoms, in China’s Guangdong province. Since the province is close to the relatively liberal city of Hong Kong, there is reason to believe that support from international civil society groups based in Hong Kong may be critical for the survival and growth of conflict-oriented LNGOs in Guangdong. In the article, the research question is studied by both comparative analysis of cross-regional data and qualitative analysis of interview data. Both methods confirm that diffusion – or, more precisely, diffusion through international civil society networks – is a prominent factor for explaining the density and conflict orientation of LNGOs in Guangdong. The study demonstrates that democratic diffusion not only has an impact at the state level but also on the regional, intrastate level.