Author Date

2020-12-18

Degree Name

BA

Department

Political Science

College

David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies

Defense Date

2020-12-10

Publication Date

2020-12-18

First Faculty Advisor

Joel Selway

First Faculty Reader

Darren Hawkins

Honors Coordinator

Ray Christensen

Keywords

Thailand, political culture, democracy, Asian values, values

Abstract

Despite research found in the World Values Survey which indicates high global support for democracy, certain regions of the world have struggled to solidify or even introduce democratic institutions. Existing explanations such as the Asian Values Theory show mixed results that political culture in Asian countries decreases support for democracy. These studies also fail to look at country-specific political cultures within countries like Thailand, where national values play a distinct role in the political arena and could affect democratic support. Moreover, previous research has not disaggregated how competing values at the national, regional, and global levels can affect support for democracy. This study attempts to answer these questions by using an experimental survey to measure how Thai, Asian, and Western values impact support for democracy. Using a randomized sample size (n = 4,013), this study makes three key contributions to the literature: first, Thai society is composed of three distinct value groups, a) those with stronger Asian values only, b) those with strong Thai values only, and c) those with neither strong Asian or Thai values. Second, priming respondents to think explicitly about various sets of values was only able to move the last of these groups’ support for democracy. In line with existing theories, the results show that general Asian values decrease support for democracy. We additionally find that Thai values also has this effect, and in fact is stronger. Lastly, this effect is limited to a decrease in support for democracy at a superficial level but has no effect on deep support for democracy. In sum, our study shows that the dampening effect of Asian values on support for democracy is much more circumscribed than previous studies have found.

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