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Confucianism and Democracy: A Review of the Opposing Conceptualizations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2011

NICHOLAS SPINA
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, University of Missouri, United Statesnjsxc5@mail.missouri.edu
DOH C. SHIN
Affiliation:
Professor of Political Science, University of Missouri, United Statesshind@mail.missouri.edu
DANA CHA
Affiliation:
missambassador@gmail.com

Abstract

The debate over the future of East Asian democracy centers largely on the fit between democratic values and the Confucian way of life. Some interpret Confucianism's hierarchical, communitarian, and anti-pluralistic values as a roadblock to democratic consolidation. Others interpret the Confucian traditions of dissent and accountability as comparable to liberal institutions. This article surveys this scholarly debate by dividing the literature into three theoretical camps: compatibility, incompatibility, and convergence. Additionally, the few available empirical works on the Confucian-democratic dynamic are discussed and the findings are applied to the three categorizations. This review article maintains that a consensus on the relationship between Confucianism and democracy remains elusive due to the divergent conceptualizations and operationalizations of the two doctrines.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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6
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