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Modernization and Cultural Democratization in East Asia

  • Kim, Hannah June
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
eScholarship - University of California
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This dissertation examines how much progress the middle class in East Asia has made in transforming into citizens of democratic states. The following research questions are addressed: Are middle-class citizens in East Asia committed to democracy? Are they willing to become the vanguard of the democratization process in the region? Do they prefer liberal democracy to other regime types, as middle-class citizens in the West are believed to? I contend that the classic relationship between modernization and democratization may not be applicable to the East-Asian context. I argue that this is because of a particular history of state-led development in East Asia, which limited growth in liberal democratic political culture and altered the commitment of the middle class to liberal democracy. I demonstrate these differences through the notion of democratic citizenship, which observes the cognitive, affective, and behavioral patterns of democratic commitment. Using data from the World Values Survey and Asia Barometer Survey, I reveal consistent differences in how middle-class respondents in the East view democracy. Moreover, I find that middle-class respondents with higher state dependency are less likely to view democracy in the liberal terms favored in the West. These results contribute to broader debates about modernization and political culture worldwide.

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