I study and teach on nationalism, identity politics, and democratic resilience in East Asia and the Korean peninsula. My expertise lies in how nationalist contention or change affects democratic stability, as well as how understandings of nation shape the political integration of refugees, with specific focus on North Korean refugees adapting to South Korean democracy.
Nationalism, National Identity
Citizen compliance is often costly. So why do individuals willingly comply in democracies, even when coercion is limited and payoffs are diffuse? I argue that many do so for moral reasons based on their national identity. Political theorists have long argued that certain special communities are morally charged: they instill an intrinsic obligation to the collective welfare, even in the absence of formal rules or promise of incentives. I show that for many, the nation is one such community, and that this moral capacity of the nation motivates democratic compliance when the representational linkage between "my" nation and the state is strong. The article illustrates this moral logic through a mixed-method comparison of the citizen duty to vote in South Korea and Taiwan, two otherwise similar democracies that contrast in linkage.
After defection, what helps North Koreans adapt to democracy after a lifetime of repressive authoritarianism? Scholarship on refugee integration typically focuses on contractual exchanges with the host state, such as the quality of resettlement aid, job assistance, or legal protection. In this article, using an original and rare political survey of over 200 North Korean refugees in South Korea, I find that in fact, such contractual factors pale in importance to a sense of co-national identification with South Koreans. The latter is a stronger predictor of the fledgling democratic duty to vote among North Koreans, raising questions about the effectiveness of refugee integration policies in South Korea and elsewhere.
Duty to vote is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of turnout, but a debate continues over its exact nature. Is it "real"--an intrinsic motivation--or simply cheap talk by those who voted? Can we empirically distinguish between these two types? By identifying and extending a key assumption about the D-term in Riker and Ordeshook's calculus of voting, I develop a statistical model of the duty to vote that can differentiate between an intrinsic versus extrinsic source. I test this model in reunified Germany, where a turnout and duty to vote gap between East and West Germans offers an ideal historical context for testing both pathways. The results suggest that for many Germans, the duty to vote is intrinsic in nature and based significantly on their nationalist socialization.
The CPS' Voting and Registration Supplement has long been the gold standard among American turnout surveys. In the historic 2008 U.S. presidential election, however, it inaccurately estimated that turnout had slightly decreased. What happened? We find that an idiosyncratic Census coding decision, coupled with a growing nonresponse rate, were responsible. For turnout researchers going forward, to best deal with bias from overreport and nonresponse, we suggest weighting to actual state vote counts.