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“Do You Hear the People Sing” “Lift Your Umbrella”?

Understanding Hong Kong’s Pro-democratic Umbrella Movement through YouTube Music Videos
Tim Rühlig
p. 59-68


Around the world, music serves as an important element of mobilisation for social movements. Singing songs is not only a peaceful protest technique but also helps to construct a protest identity locating and relating the social movement to its political and social environment. Most importantly, a social movement is to a significant extent remembered through its music, and this determines its future impact on local (contentious) politics. Against this backdrop, this article seeks to understand Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement through four YouTube music videos, analysing the lyrics, music, and video imagery in order to carve out core elements and values of the Umbrella Movement. Especially given the importance of Hong Kong’s identity as a “global” city with a cosmopolitan culture and past, the peaceful nature of the movement and the rise of a xenophobic localism in the shape of sarcasm are emphasised.

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Bibliographical reference

Tim Rühlig, « “Do You Hear the People Sing” “Lift Your Umbrella”? », China Perspectives, 2016/4 | 2016, 59-68.

Electronic reference

Tim Rühlig, « “Do You Hear the People Sing” “Lift Your Umbrella”? », China Perspectives [Online], 2016/4 | 2016, Online since 01 December 2017, connection on 26 February 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Tim Rühlig

Tim Rühlig is research associate at Goethe University of Frankfurt /Germany, Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”.Max-Horkheimer-Straße 2, 60629 Frankfurt am Main, Germany (

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