Social Attitudes Towards Young People And The Sunflower Movement

Social Attitudes Towards Young People And The Sunflower Movement

A major factor in how the Sunflower Movement was perceived was social attitudes towards the young people who were the majority of its participants

Part of the reason why the Sunflower Movement galvanized Taiwanese society into action was because young people hold a privileged place in society. Young people are sometimes seen as the vanguard of society, since they will be the next generation to inherit the nation.

Students in particular are seen as pure and guilt-free and so when young people undertake forms of direct action, such as occupying the Legislative Yuan, they have greater leeway for their actions than other social groups, and are in this way able to attract public support. We can perhaps attribute this to Taiwan’s status as a society which, like many other Asian society, has strong influence from Confucianism.

Nevertheless, the flipside of this is that students and other young people may sometimes be stigmatized as morally degenerate or lazy, again, as in the trope of the “Strawberry Tribe” (草莓族). While the Legislative Yuan occupiers came to attract a great deal of public support and came to be seen as a morally pure vanguard of society, for example, attempts were also made to discredit the occupation as a whole by claiming that the Legislative Yuan occupiers were damaging the Legislative Yuan, the highest institution of government, for cheap thrills. Such views did also have traction among some elements of Taiwanese society, not merely those who were of the pan-Blue camp or members of the KMT.

For example, controversy followed after Guo Liwei (郭力瑋), lead singer of The Deposers (罷黜者), was caught on camera drinking and smoking at the occupation site. Other rumors were of wild sex and drug use within the Legislative Yuan. Other reactions were against the fact that one of the windows of the Legislative Yuan was broken during the occupation.


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Photo credit: Brian Hioe