Confucianism and Democratization in East Asia

Confucianism and Democratization in East Asia

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For decades, scholars and politicians have vigorously debated whether Confucianism is compatible with democracy, yet little is known about how it affects the process of democratization in East Asia. In this book, Doh Chull Shin examines the prevalence of core Confucian legacies and their impacts on civic and political orientations in six Confucian countries: China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Analyses of the Asian Barometer and World Values surveys reveal that popular attachment to Confucian legacies has mixed results on democratic demand. While Confucian political legacies encourage demand for a non-liberal democratic government that prioritizes the economic welfare of the community over the freedom of individual citizens, its social legacies promote interpersonal trust and tolerance, which are critical components of democratic civic life. Thus, the author argues that citizens of historically Confucian Asia have an opportunity to combine the best of Confucian ideals and democratic principles in a novel, particularly East Asian brand of democracy.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 33 b/w illus. 47 tables
  • 1139216678
  • 9781139216678

Table of contents

Part I. Confucianism and Confucian East Asia: 1. The evolution of Confucian East Asia and its cultural legacies; 2. The Confucian Asian values thesis; Part II. Upholding Confucian Values: 3. Confucianism as a hierarchical way of life; 4. Confucianism as a government of paternalistic meritocracy; Part III. Engaging in Civic Life: 5. Communitarianism and civic activism; 6. Familism and civic orientations; Part IV. Embracing Democracy: 7. Conceptions of democracy; 8. Support for democracy; Part V. Final Thoughts: 9. Reassessing the Confucian Asian values debate.
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Review quote

'Defenders of Asian values are wrong to claim that democracy and Confucianism are incompatible. Yet modernization theorists are also wrong to think that economic development inevitably leads to widespread support for liberal democracy. Drawing on a wealth of empirical research, Doh Chull Shin shows that the Confucian legacy of paternalistic meritocracy informs a strong popular preference for nonliberal democracy in East Asia. This book will shape the debate on democratization in East Asia for years to come.' Daniel A. Bell, Jiaotong University and Tsinghua University 'To what extent does a distinctive Confucian culture exist - and is it incompatible with democracy? In this thoughtful and well-informed analysis of empirical evidence from many countries, Doh Shin argues convincingly that a distinctive Confucian culture does exist - but that it is not necessarily incongruent with democracy. Most Asians (including most Chinese) have a positive view of democracy, but the Confucian legacy has a strong influence on how people understand it and is likely to influence any type of democracy that emerges.' Ronald F. Inglehart, University of Michigan 'Based on solid and rigorous research, Shin's work will inspire more research on East Asia, particularly on how its culture and political institutions interact to shape the destiny of their political future. The book will be a 'must' read for any informed debate on Asian values for many years to come.' Journal of Contemporary Asia 'The author's analysis of the outcomes of these surveys has led to several interesting and significant findings ... [Shin] has set out in this project 'to offer a comprehensive account of the roles Confucianism plays in making democratic citizens by investigating its effects on the civic and political life of individual citizens'.' Albert H. Y. Chen, The Review of Politics '... a great strength of the book lies in the very thorough, in-depth, and balanced review of the theories related to the topic tackled in each chapter, making reading the book highly enjoyable. ... this study will have a significant impact on future studies of political culture, democratization, and citizen politics.' Zhengxu Wang, Journal of Chinese Political Science
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