While political opportunity structures are seen as important for movement emergence and success, it is still unclear how opportunities equate with specific actions and how movement actors become aware of opportunities. This paper argues that as movements engage with institutions and state actors that vague structural opportunity contexts are concretized as specific opportunities for framing and acting.
I draw on four NIMBY movements in urban China linked by their similar claim making structure, tactics, and rhetorical emphasis as well as being nested within the same broad environmental movement. Each occurred in a complex movement environment which saw increasing opportunities for environmental movements, low opportunity for overt protest, and generally decreasing opportunities for contentious politics of any kind. Yet these movements, in interaction with both local and national state actors, were able to test out the extent to which movement opportunities existed and turn generalized opportunities into movement specific ones.