Theses Doctoral

Between Ethnic and Civic: A Paradox of National Identification in Contemporary Taiwan

Yang, Chien-min

This dissertation analyzes the paradox of national identity in contemporary Taiwan. Under the context of democratic transition and new dynamics of exchanges with Mainland China, Taiwan people's national identification has demonstrated a significant change in the past two decades. Many empirical studies confirmed the emergence of a new Taiwanese identity, the sharp decline of traditional Chinese identity, and presented a clear trend of national identity change in Taiwan. However, there are several puzzling phenomena, such as the growth of dual identification (both "Chinese and Taiwanese"), the divergent rationale for the national identity and statehood preferences (Reunification vs. Independence), and the fluctuation of various national identity change patterns in the society left unanswered in the previous studies.
Following the transition process-oriented approach, this dissertation focuses on the underlying organization principles (ethnic-cultural vs. civic-territorial mechanisms) that people take to define and redefine themselves in national terms, and assumes national identification changes and various change patterns in Taiwan were derived from different advantages between the two underlying identity formation mechanisms in response to the external transformations - democratization, new stages of cross-strait exchanges, and the rise of China in the world - that the society have experienced in the past two decades.
In light of this new analytical approach, this dissertation explores and explains the changes of national identification in the past two decades - the paradox and puzzling aspects of two "conflicting" national identities, the existence of "dual identities" and both "Unification and Independence" acceptable in a large segment of the population, the divergent rationales behind the national identity and statehood preferences, the decline of Chinese identity in two-stages with the new dynamics of cross-strait exchanges and the rise of China in the international society, and, finally, how Taiwanese identity becomes civic and national out of the democratic transition practices in the past two decades.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Nathan, Andrew J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014