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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cultural Hybridization in East Asia: Exploring an Alternative to the Global Democratization Thesis

  • Author(s): Shin, Doh Chull;
  • et al.

Is democracy emerging as the universally preferred political system, as advocates of the global democratization thesis claim? This paper seeks to explore this question in the context of East Asia, a region known for democratic underdevelopment. To this end, we first provide a critical review of how previous survey-based studies were conducted to estimate the relative preference of democracy as a political system. We then introduce hybridization as a new conceptual tool for ascertaining the emerging patterns of political orientations among citizens of authoritarian and post-authoritarian societies and for analyzing the contours of cultural change taking place in those societies. Finally, we analyze the latest, third wave of the Asian Barometer surveys conducted in eleven East Asian countries conducted in 2010 and 2011. On the basis of this analysis, we argue that it is premature to claim that democracy is emerging as the universally preferred system. Further, we argue that hybridization, unlike democratization, can serve as a concept capable of revealing and illuminating the true nature of cultural change taking place in post-authoritarian and authoritarian societies.  

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