Mark Thompson


Mark Thompson, PhD

  • Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Distinguished Fellow on Southeast Asia

Shorenstein APARC
Stanford University
Encina Hall E301
Stanford, CA 94305-6055

(650) 725-6459 (voice)
(650) 723-6530 (fax)


Professor Thompson builds on Barrington Moore's insight that there are different "paths to the modern" world. Thompson's manuscript explores alternatives to the familiar South Korean-and Taiwan-based model of "late democratization." According to that model, political pluralism follows a formative period of economic growth during which labor is demobilized and big business, religious leaders, and professionals depend upon and are co-opted by the state.

Thompson argues that even when these preconditions are in place, democratization need not follow. Singapore is an illuminating case in point. The autocratic growth model pays insufficient attention to politics, including the sometimes crucial role of student activists in challenging developmental authoritarianism and triggering a democratic transition, as in Indonesia. As political actors, students (rather than a progressive bourgeoisie) may fill the oppositional vacuum created by the preconditions that characterized predemocratic South Korean and Taiwan.

In his critique of Northeast Asian-style, post-authoritarian "late democratization" and its emphasis on economic growth as the driver of political change, Professor Thompson uses evidence drawn from paired comparisons of Vietnam with China, Hong Kong with Singapore, and between South Korea and Taiwan on the one hand and other major Southeast Asian cases on the other.

Mark R. Thompson is a professor of political science at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.  A Chicago native, he took his first degree in religious studies at Brown University followed by postgraduate work at Cambridge University and the University of the Philippines.  Fascinated by Philippine people power, he wrote his dissertation at Yale University on the anti-Marcos struggle (Yale University Press, 1996). After moving to Germany, he witnessed popular uprisings in East Germany and Eastern Europe, inspiring him to conceptualize democratic revolutions in essays later published as a book (Routledge, 2004).  He is in residence at Stanford as Lee Kong Chian Distinguished Fellow in Southeast Asian Studies from February through April 2009.