Why Did The Sunflower Movement Rupture The Everyday For Many Participants?

Why Did The Sunflower Movement Rupture The Everyday For Many Participants?

The Sunflower Movement allowed many young people, who had previously felt politically disempowered, to suddenly have the sense of seizing control of their own destiny

Part of the reason why the Sunflower Movement seemed like such a profound event for many of its participation was the way in which young people, who had previously felt politically disempowered and largely powerless in the course of their own lives, suddenly had the sense of standing on the world stage and being able to seize control of their own destiny. Empty, homogeneous time and its passage was suddenly charged with a visceral sense of the now, breaking apart the mundanity of the everyday, with politics suddenly becoming something that young people could take into their own hands through actions rather than an uncontrollable force which acted upon their lives from without.

This is often the case with social movements, particularly occupations, in which the separation of the occupation from the social fabric of the everyday, as heightened by physical separation such as between the inside of the Legislative Yuan and the outside world, or through the sense of difference created by the artworks and happenings of the occupation, as was the case with occupation encampment surrounding the Legislative Yuan. The occupation site, then, comes to thought of as a temporary autonomous zone in which the rules of the outside world do not apply. With the free food and water and supplies donated to the occupation, free coffee, a free shower set-up, free charging stations, free transport offered between northern and southern Taiwan, free legal support, free tutoring for students, and even free haircuts, much seemed utopian about the occupation. This may be in part an effect created by the numerous artworks in the occupation space, which reinforced a sense of the occupation space being a different space from the outside world.

In this way, the occupation encampment even felt like a sort of utopia built in the seat of power of a decidedly non-utopian society to some. This was why the Sunflower Movement felt like such as powerful event for many of its participants. Sometimes participants felt as though they were taking history and the actions of living out democracy into their own hands and this could be powerfully empowering.


Photo credit: othree/Flickr/CC