Social movements have played a very important role in driving and enabling societal transition from dictatorship to democracy, a process oft-known as democratization. Without bottom-up pressure and effective people mobilization by social movements in opposing authoritarian polities and dictatorships, democratization would not have been possible. Yet, even as society and political systems have changed as a consequence of social movement actions and pressure, so too social movements have also experienced change after democratization. This process has not been passive or unidirectional. Instead, the relationship between social movements and the democratization process is a dynamic and mutually interactive one in which social movements play a very important role in influencing or even composing diverse patterns of democratization. In return, the nature of democratization has had an impact upon social movements which forces groups which once successfully challenged authoritarian polities and dictatorships to now reconstitute themselves in ways that allows them to successfully confront new issues in the post-authoritarian or post-dictatorship period.
While general studies of democratization often divide the democratization process into periods of democratic transition and democratic consolidation, generally social movements pass through three phases of change after the beginning of any democratic transition. These phases are characterized as the anti-dictatorship movement phase, the post-dictatorship democratic reform movement phase and the post-democratic reform movement phase. Each phase and movement characterization is strongly influenced by its predecessor movements and varying social forces. Throughout this process, changes in social movements happen differently albeit dynamically in terms of their popular support, internal composition, relations with institutionalized party politics and social impact. All in turn influence the larger social movement situation in its new context and phase of post-democratic reform even as that social context also influences further social movement growth and change. Drawing from varied cases from Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Nepal, Malaysia, Philippines and India, this book contributes to the growing debate on the dynamic relationship between social movements and democratization in Asia.