The role of Confucianism in Taiwan’s democratization is an important question. In Confucianism, Democratization, and Human Rights in Taiwan, Joel S. Fetzer and J. Christopher Soper examine this question through interviews with pro-democracy politicians, analysis of data from public opinion surveys between 1995 and 2009, Confucian content in textbooks before and after democratization, and legislative debates on key laws passed in the process of political liberalization. The study includes valuable points for the general reader interested in political and social developments in Taiwan. The back jacket summary tells the reader that Confucianism ‘played little role in Taiwan’s democratization.’ This overall conclusion, perhaps of greatest interest to the general reader, is supported by the different sources of data in the study. (Taiwan Today)
Confucianism, Democratization, and Human Rights in Taiwan remains an excellent primer on Confucian thought and its contemporary relevance, especially in Taiwan. Highly recommended for all. (Newsletter of Christians in Political Science)
Fetzer and Soper have produced an excellent case study that is both conceptually sophisticated and methodologically nuanced. This work combines a detailed understanding of the Taiwanese case with attention to major questions of the role of transcendent traditions in democratic politics. (Ted G. Jelen, University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Evaluating the “Asian values” thesis in Taiwan, Confucianism, Democratization, and Human Rights in Taiwan, by Joel S. Fetzer and J. Christopher Soper, concludes that while Confucian values were used to bolster authoritarianism under martial law and played little role in democratization, they are now being reinterpreted in a pro-democratic direction. Based on elite interviews, survey research, and content analysis of legislative debates and public school textbooks, this study makes a much-needed empirical contribution to the largely theoretical debate about the political effects of Confucianism.
About the Author
J. Christopher Soper is Distinguished Professor of political science at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.