The focus of this volume is the relationship between culture and politics in Asia, mediated by the contentious issue of democracy. The concept of a certain type of democracy based on so-called Asian values has aroused increasing global attention not only because it represents a challenge to the liberal democracy orthodoxy, but also because it compels us to rethink the assumptions of the long-existing modernization paradigm.
Political development in Asia, of both a democratic and authoritarian nature, has forced social scientists to refine their instruments of analysis and general theories. The democratization process in several Asian countries provides fascinating insights into new paths of achieving democracy; while the resilience of other authoritarian regimes challenges the modernization paradigm. The chapters in this volume focus on the specificity of democracy and authoritarianism in Asia. They do so by putting history and culture into the national political framework. Although the individual chapters do not portray a single one-to-one relationship between history, culture and politics, they argue that it is also impossible to understand present day development only as a result of contemporary global processes such as a third wave of democratization.