East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

January 29 Workshop


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society Presents


                                           “Going Underground:

The Origins of Participatory Democracy and Elite Transformism

In East Asia and Latin America”


                                          Presenter: Cheol-Sung Lee

Assistant Professor in Sociology

University of Chicago


4:00-5:30pm, Tuesday

January 29, 2013

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.




This study explores how different forms of civic solidarity emerge during authoritarian eras, and how they evolve into diverse labor-based political institutions after transitions to democracy. We initially explore the modes of choices that radical intellectuals make – go-underground or cooperate – in their responses to coercion and co-optation by authoritarian elites. Based on comparative historical evidence of institutionalization processes of labor-based politics in four recently democratized developing countries, we identify three types of solidarity and one absence case, each reflecting a different combination of strengths and divisions in the informal civil society of its respective nation: participatory solidarity, top-down solidarity, clique-based solidarity, and co-optation (no solidarity). A strong bottom-up mobilization of workers based on religious communities inBrazilbrought in the participatory governance movements led by the Workers’ Party. Top-down solidarity in South Korea initiated by leftist intellectuals’ crusades into local factories developed into a narrowly labor-based, ideologically factionalized mass-bureaucratic party, although one well-embedded in numerous progressive civic associations. In contrast, Argentine Peronists’ re-embedding strategy into their own cliques set forth a strong clientelistic patronage party, disconnected from non-Peronist informal civic communities. Finally, Taiwanese intellectuals and union leaders were unable to build independent labor party institutions, as their predecessors were gradually co-opted into the existing party structure. This study shows that radical intellectuals’ early actions play critical roles in the evolution or devolution of institutionalization of different forms of labor politics during the democratic consolidation.


Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Le Lin (lelin2010@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang, Dingxin Zhao and Zheng Michael Song


This presentation is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences and Center for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

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