China and Inner Asia
See Pok Loa
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Sociologists have widely studied how social class shapes political divisions and collective actions. But little is known about the role of class in movements that are not class-based. By engaging with literature on stratification, cultural sociology, and social movement, this paper borrows the concept of “logics of action” to explore how gay men of different class positions make sense of movement success and strategies in the LGBT movement in Hong Kong. Using data from interviews and field observations, I found that working-class gay men tend to construct a logic of bargaining to express their urgent demand for policy changes to remedy institutional injustice. Middle-class gay men tend to activate a logic of appeasement that highlights the need of earning public recognition and respect by de-politicizing LGBT movements to absorb a bigger base of alliance. I argue movement actors’ contrasting interpretations of specific movement goals and strategies are influenced by their structural vulnerability to sexual injustice in daily life, which is in turn shaped by their class positions and access to resources that could buffer or keep away homophobia or differential treatments. The findings highlight the internal schisms within movements and shed important implications for movement recruitment, maintenance, and reproduction. More broadly, they highlight how class positions shape meaning-making systems of collective actions.