East Asian Democratization: Impact of Globalization, Culture, and Economy

East Asian Democratization: Impact of Globalization, Culture, and Economy

East Asian Democratization: Impact of Globalization, Culture, and Economy

East Asian Democratization: Impact of Globalization, Culture, and Economy

Synopsis

What is the future of Asian democracy? The Asian Crisis and ongoing globalization suggest that traditional governance is increasingly questioned. Compton explores Asian politics through a cultural lens, and he tests an Asian political development model through quantitative analysis and comparative case studies of Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

Excerpt

The Asian orientation toward the group, rather than stressing the individual, affects not only basic political values but a wide range of ordinary political behavior.

Lucian W. Pye (1985: 27)

Between reality and modernization theory

Modernization theorists correctly suggest a positive correlation between modernization and democratization. Initially, however, rapid economic growth in East Asia did not portend immediate democratization. Instead, the military dominated politics for most of the post-World War II period. the primary political characteristic of military-led regimes was political repression and an authoritarian orientation to governance. Coupled with economic growth, Asian elites found political stability. Asian democratization process initially lagged behind expectations, but eventually the socioeconomic modernization in the entire region produced significant movement toward the adoption of political liberalization. Modernization theorists could claim some vindication. On one hand, East Asian nations became more democratic through social phenomena associated with modernization, but real democracy remained elusive until the 1980s for many of these countries. While elections took place regularly in South Korea, Thailand, and Japan, real power remained in the hands of the ruling elite from industry, the military, the bureaucracy, and political stalwarts allied with these interests. For the average citizen, the choice consisted of one general or another, or (in Japan) a false choice between . . .

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