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Are the poor the weak link? Democratic support and income levels in post-crisis South Korea

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Frame of Image urnals.cambridge.org/abstract_S1598240816000011 How to cite this article: Byunghwan Son (2016). ARE THE POOR THE WEAK LINK? DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT AND INCOME LEVELS IN POST-CRISIS SOUTH KOREA. Journal of East Asian Studies, 16, pp 219-237 doi:10.1017/jea.2016.1 Request Permissions : Click here
Downloaded from http://journals.cambridge.org/JEA, IP address: 211.253.42.254 on 31 Aug 2016
Journal of East Asian Studies 16 (2016), 219–237 doi:10.1017/jea.2016.1
Byunghwan Son
ARE THE POOR THE WEAK LINK? DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT AND INCOME LEVELS IN POST-CRISIS SOUTH KOREA
Abstract Extant literature on democratization documents that ordinary citizens’ unconditional support for democracy is indispensable to democratic consolidation. Yet observers of nascent democracies have repeatedly witnessed that such support often hinges upon their economic conditions. This article argues that income levels have a conditioning effect on this relationship; the Korean poor see democracy as a tool for income redistribution and are less likely than the rich to support it when economic hardships appear to close windows of opportunities for such redistribution. Using survey data from the first round of the Asian Barometer Survey on South Korea, I find strong empirical support for this argument. The implication of this finding for broader literature on democratization is that the weakening of young democracies can be attributed to the poor in times of trouble, or the “weak link.” Keywords democratic support, incom


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Title Are the poor the weak link? Democratic support and income levels in post-crisis South Korea
Similar Titles
Material Type Articles
Author(English)

Son, Byunghwan

Publisher

Seoul, Korea:East Asia Institute

Date 2016-07
Journal Title; Vol./Issue Journal of East Asian Studies:vol. 16(issue 2)
Pages 20
Subject Country South Korea(Asia and Pacific)
Language English
File Type Documents
Original Format pdf
Subject Social Development < Population
Government and Law < Political Development
Holding East Asia Institute

Abstract

Extant literature on democratization documents that ordinary citizens’ unconditional support for democracy is indispensable to democratic consolidation. Yet observers of nascent democracies have repeatedly witnessed that such support often hinges upon their economic conditions. This article argues that income levels have a conditioning effect on this relationship; the Korean poor see democracy as a tool for income redistribution and are less likely than the rich to support it when economic hardships appear to close windows of opportunities for such redistribution. Using survey data from the first round of the Asian Barometer Survey on South Korea, I find strong empirical support for this argument. The implication of this finding for broader literature on democratization is that the weakening of young democracies can be attributed to the poor in times of trouble, or the “weak link.”