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Asian vs. liberal democracy: identifying the locus of conflict in the Asian values debate

Ho, Daniel (2023) Asian vs. liberal democracy: identifying the locus of conflict in the Asian values debate. Political Science, 75 (2). 165 - 192. ISSN 0032-3187

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00323187.2023.2280107


The Asian values thesis argues that a coherent value system endemic to Asian societies is incompatible with the Western notion of individual human rights and liberal democracy. Past survey studies have treated Asian values as a one-dimensional variable and left the meaning of democracy open to various interpretations. As a result, the precise loci of conflict between the two value systems were never fully fleshed out. This study addresses those shortfalls by breaking the concept of Asian values down into ‘Asian’ personal and political values and liberal democracy down to its defining characteristics: electoralism, political rights, and civil rights. Using country-level data from the Pew Research Centre and the World Values Survey, I examined how ‘Asian’ personal and political values are associated with these liberal democratic principles. Regression results reveal a wide intraregional disparity in ‘Asian’ values orientation within East and Southeast Asia and interregional effects suggest that the existence of a pan-Asian identity is greatly overstated. Whereas ‘Asian’ personal values are not inimical to liberal democratic principles, ‘Asian’ political values are negatively associated with the support for electoralism and political rights. This leaves countries in Asia open to the possibility of alternative political models to gain mass support.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2023 10:21
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 07:06

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