04 January 2010

Book: How East Asians View Democracy

"How East Asians View Democracy", edited by Yun-han Chu, Larry Diamond, Andrew J. Nathan, and Doh Chull Shin (Columbia University Press, 2008):


From the publisher's description: "East Asian democracies are in trouble, their legitimacy threatened by poor policy performance and undermined by nostalgia for the progrowth, soft-authoritarian regimes of the past. [...] Japanese citizens are disillusioned. The region's new democracies have yet to prove themselves, and citizens in authoritarian China assess their regime's democratic performance relatively favorably. The contributors to this volume contradict the claim that democratic governance is incompatible with East Asian cultures but counsel against complacency toward the fate of democracy in the region. While many forces affect democratic consolidation, popular attitudes are a crucial factor. This book shows how and why skepticism and frustration are the ruling sentiments among today's East Asians."

Reviews: "A careful, fascinating, and sobering cross-national analysis of East Asian public attitudes about democratic ideals and practice. The contributors make the persuasive argument that democratic consolidation has yet to be established in East Asia's new democracies and that even in its older ones, it is more lack of support for authoritarian alternatives than enthusiasm for the established system that keeps these polities democratic. This book not only provides an important analysis of East Asian democracy but also adds a new level of sophistication to the literature on democratic consolidation." (Gerald Curtis, Columbia University)

"Mass publics have displayed 'democratic resilience' in the face of coups (in Thailand) and coup attempts (in the Philippines) while 'authoritarian detachment' (a suspension of judgment about democracy while reserving authoritarian values) remains fairly limited, compared to what similar surveys in Latin America and Africa have found. Yet democracy is still in a tenebrous 'twilight zone' in the region, with democratic decision making bringing uneven economic results and thriving neighbors such as China displaying satisfaction with their own less democratic political arrangements. All students of contemporary East Asia will benefit from this penetrating, comprehensive analysis." (Lowell Dittmer, University of California at Berkeley)

The book is fully searchable on Google Book Search (including list of contributors and table of contents):


Yun-han Chu is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute of Political Science of Academia Sinica and Professor of Political Science at National Taiwan University. Larry Diamond is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Andrew J. Nathan is Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. Doh Chull Shin is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri.

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