The Meanings of Democracy: Solving an Asian Puzzle

Issue Date October 2010
Volume 21
Issue 4
Page Numbers 114-122
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It is problematic to rely on indicators carrying the “D-word” for measuring democratic legitimacy. Popular conception of the “D-word” has been so much contaminated by competing public discourses and socializing mechanisms that the word “democracy” has lost much of its conceptual clarity and semantic consistency when it travels across borders. We introduce a more reliable tool to compare the cultural foundation for liberal democracy across countries, especially between democratic and non-democratic ones. A newly developed typological analysis, which is applied to two waves of Asian Barometer Survey, enables us to differentiate the substance of democratic legitimacy from its appearance.