Understanding of democracy in East Asian societies
Using a new survey battery of democratic conceptions from the third wave of the Asian Barometer Survey (ABS III), this paper explores the possible origins of democratic conceptions in the sampled East Asian societies. There are three major findings. First, the substance-based democratic conception has won the hearts and minds of a majority of the East Asians. Second, the East Asians’ assessment of government performance, as well as their appreciation of the intrinsic value of democracy, plays a significant role in shaping how they understand democracy. Third, the sharp distinction between economic prosperity in Asian authoritarian or emerging democratic countries as opposed to the long-term recession in Asian liberal democracies has already changed value orientation toward instrumental conception of democracy. Nevertheless, the impact of government performance is conditional upon its surrounding political context. Different interpretations should be developed to explain the same phenomenon since the reason behind could be very different.