Regular Issue

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Volume #21, Number #1

Published in June, 2017

This paper explores why anti-left sentiments have recently emerged in some Asian cities and, in particular, why urban middle classes have frequently, if not persistently, protested against the socioeconomic reforms of new left governments. The global middle-class thesis ascribes the emergence of anti-left sentiments to the liberal-democratic ideology and conservative values of the affluent middle classes. However, this paper does not characterize these anti-left sentiments as ideological or value-driven conflicts. Alternatively, this paper argues that this phenomenon has stemmed from the immediate reactions, or hysteresis, of the middle classes to the critical instability that the new left governments have caused in their taken-for-granted lifestyles in unique urban spaces. To corroborate the argument, this paper compares the cases of the most contentious middle classes in three East and Southeast Asian countries, including Japan’s wage earners or salarymen, South Korea’s self-employed, and Thailand’s urban professionals.

Ji-whan Yun

Despite the importance of political knowledge to democracy, there is still only a limited understanding of the political knowledge of the electorate. While research and empirics generally point to the existence of a positive association between partisanship and political knowledge, most of the electorate fail to notice the probable negative influence of party identification on political knowledge. In this paper, in accordance with the theory of motivated reasoning, we claim that partisanship plays a role in sifting and selecting political information, and in deleting, ignoring, and disbelieving the information against personal prior beliefs. Moreover, the electorate might even distort the information in order to sustain their political decisions. Therefore, as the voters’ party identification becomes stronger, the influence of political information on political knowledge becomes insignificant. We further test our motivated reasoning hypotheses against the TEDS 2012 data. The result supports our hypotheses and shows that, as the voters’ party identification increases, the marginal effect of political information on political knowledge decreases.

Yen-chen Tang, Tsung-han Tsai, Alex Chuan-hsien Chang

The value and importance of cultural historic heritage has been increasingly recognized and emphasized for the reason that its conservation contributes to human diversity, something which is crucial for human creativity and inspiration. From the perspective of the psychological needs of human beings, cultural heritage is a very important resource for shaping both national and local identity, and its conservation is significant in improving social wellbeing. Accordingly, cultural historic heritage has become the focus of rural and urban sustainable developmental strategies in both developed and developing countries. Using Peitien village in Fujian Province of Mainland China as a case study, this article seeks to analyze the major challenges facing Peitien’s governance of its tourism through its construction of an eco-museum. The dilemma facing the governance of cultural heritage conservation— entrepreneurial politics where the majority benefit from the interests gained, and the minority bears the cost— stems from the subtractability of use and difficulty of excluding potential beneficiaries of cultural heritage from the new commons. The conclusion emphasizes the need for institutional innovation if Peitien is to sustain its economic development and make it more equitable and just. Essential prerequisites to this innovative institutional design include: a polycentric governance regime where multiple centers/ arenas of power exist, an institution of co-production which breaks the divide of state/public and market/private, and civic participation.

Mei-chuan Wei, Ching-ping Tang

Using data from the “2011 Taiwan Civil Justice Survey,” this paper investigates Taiwan citizens’ attitude toward and trust in the judicial system, together with the factors that influence their attitude and trust. In general, citizens have relatively little trust in the courts. Specifically, only about half of the subjects interviewed believe that the court rulings are fair. This is lower than their trust in the police’s work. Only 41.5% of the subjects are satisfied with the overall performance of the courts. Even more serious is the finding that the subjects who had court experience have even lower trust than those who had not, a result contracting the theory which extor “Familiarity Breeds Respect.” Our statistical analysis indicates that, although fewer subjects believe that “the judge’s thinking is out of pace with society” than either “judgments are influenced by litigants’ social positions” or “courts are authoritarian,” it has the strongest negative impact on the subjects’ support for and trust in the courts. The impact of legal consciousness on the support for and trust in the courts is significantly stronger than the demographic characteristics, as well as those who strongly believe in the presumption of innocence. All in all, people’s trust in and support for the courts are indeed influenced by their value judgments and experience.

Kuo-chang Huang, Kong-pin Chen, Chang-ching Lin

That democracy is faced with great challenges in the 21st Century where the world is flat is more or less a universal phenomenon. Whatever the causes of this conundrum are, the evolution of democracy has encountered a unique intervening variable in Europe, namely, deeper economic and political integration. What role does the EU play in the evolution of democracy in Europe? Has the existence of the EU reinforced or undermined the goal of “government by the people”? This article assumes that democracy is embodied in two components, namely, an input component (participation by the people) and an output component (outcomes for the people). It further assumes that the establishment of the EU is aimed at improving the latter, i.e., the output end of democratic performance. Based on these assumptions, this article examines the background, the key driving forces, the logic behind the institutional design, and the actual practices of policy-making in the Union, and finds that the relaunching of European integration that took place in the mid-80s was a crucial step towards the neoliberalization of democracy, resulting in severe income inequality, a breakdown of the social security and social welfare systems that the Europeans used to pride themselves in, and an erosion of the foundation for democracy even at the national level.

Chien-yi Lu