Do middle-class citizens in East Asia support democracy? Do they prefer democracy to other regime types, as modernization theory contends? In this talk, Hannah Kim, a Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow in Contemporary Asia at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, examines democratic attitudes among middle-class citizens in East Asia. She argues that the classic relationship between modernization and democratization may not be applicable in East Asia due to low democratic commitment among middle-class citizens. She demonstrates this through the notion of democratic citizenship, which observes the cognitive, affective, and behavioral patterns of democratic support. Using data from the Asia Barometer Survey, Kim finds low democratic citizenship among middle-class respondents in three democracies and three nondemocracies. Moreover, she finds that middle-class respondents with higher government dependency are less likely to view democracy favorably. These results indicate that the classic causality between modernization and democratization is unlikely to be universally applicable to different cultural contexts.
Hannah Kim completed her doctorate in the department of political science at the University of California, Irvine, in 2019. She received an MA in international studies from Korea University and a BA from UCLA.