Generational Conflict And The Sunflower Movement

Generational Conflict And The Sunflower Movement

As an event which marked a generation's coming of age, the Sunflower Movement led to no small amount of intergenerational conflict

There are many tales of family fights which broke out because of the Sunflower Movement. Sometimes, it was children fighting with their parents because of differing political views about what the relation of Taiwan and China should be, or differing views about the KMT and the Republic of China framework. This was often true of third-generation waishengren (外省人). Interestingly enough, it is a common sociological phenomenon for the third generation of a diasporic population to take interest in their roots, but for many third-generation waishengren, this is not always to look to China but to instead to emphasize an identity firmly rooted in Taiwan.

Likewise, it was not always because of differences in identity which led parents to fight with their children regarding participation in the Sunflower Movement. An entire generation grew up during the martial law period, as a result of which participation in protests could get you thrown in jail, tortured, or even killed.  Consequently, due to this drama, some continue to be wary of political participation, with the view that participating in political protests is dangerous and could get you killed.

Still others of an older generation took the view that politics was a dirty thing, given the long history of political corruption in Taiwan through KMT vote buying, or KMT collusion with organized crime. But for the younger generation in Taiwan, particularly after the Wild Strawberry Movement, politics is no longer a dirty thing, nor does it seem like something conducted by distant politicians, at a remove from everyday society. Rather, it is a way for them to influence society as a whole, by taking political action into their own hands.


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Photo credit: Brian Hioe