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Author: Robert Marsh

Abstract

Theories from Tocqueville to Putnam have stressed the role of organizational participation, social capital, in the emergence and maintenance of democracy. Taiwan is a strategic location for testing this because in the last two decades it has made the transition from an authoritarian regime to a multi-party democracy. Data from surveys of representative samples of the population of Taiwan in 1992 and 1997 do not support the theory in its original formulation. The mean level of participation in 15 types of formal voluntary organizations was not only much lower than that in the United States and several other societies, but declined significantly between 1992 and 1997, as democracy was advancing. Instead of rejecting the causal influence of social capital on democracy in Taiwan, I explore an alternative hypothesis. Though not a "nation of joiners," people in Taiwan create social capital in culturally distinctive ways, through the guanxi social networks of a society that is more relationship-based than either individualor collectivity-based.

In: Comparative Sociology
In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert Marsh

Abstract

How tolerant of the civil liberties of people who advocated various unpopular political stances were the citizens of Taiwan, a new democracy in the late 1980s? Are the reasons some Taiwanese were more tolerant than others the same as in other societies? A 1992 survey of a representative sample of the population of Taiwan (N = 1,408) is used to answer these questions. Of the four political stances studied, communism and Taiwan's independence from China were perceived as "more harmful to Taiwan" than the immediate unification of Taiwan with China and the restoration of martial law.Of the hypotheses tested in multivariate analysis, two were largely confirmed: (1) the more one subscribes to the value of democracy as the correct political system for Taiwan, the more tolerant one is of the civil liberties of the "harmful" target groups, but (2) the greater the perceived threat of the harmful political stance, the more intolerant one is of the civil liberties of those advocating the stance. The remaining hypotheses concern the effects of sex, age, ethnicity, education, occupation and income on tolerance.I contextualize the theoretical causal model by reviewing the political history of Taiwan as it changed from an authoritarian one-party state into a democracy. In conclusion, I suggest that the reason the level of intolerance in Taiwan in 1992 has not lead to a diminution of democracy and civil rights between 1992 and the present may be due to "pluralistic intolerance," i.e., the public does not agree on which group to target for intolerance.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert Marsh

Abstract

Are social classes perceived as a meaningful source of identity in Taiwan? I explore this issue with data from a 1992 survey (N = 2,377) of the population of Taiwan. Respondents were asked, "If people in our society are divided into upper, upper middle, middle, lower middle, working and lower classes, which class do you think you belong to?" Ninety-eight per cent placed themselves in one or the other of these six classes. The modal responses were "middle class" (41%) and "working class" (29%). Two tests are made of whether these responses are meaningful and consequential. First, I show that subjective class identification is rooted in respondent's position in the objective stratification system, i.e., the higher one's education, occupation, power and income, the higher the social class with which one identifies. The second test is the extent to which, controlling for one's objective position in the stratification system, subjective class identification has significant net effects on attitudes toward class issues (e.g, whether big enterprises have too much economic and political power). Class interest theory predicts that Taiwanese who identify with the "middle" or higher classes have a more conservative ideology concerning class conflict, while those who think of themselves as "working class" or lower are more likely to believe there is class conflict, to favor collective action by employees against their employer, and to think big enterprises have too much power. Multiple regression analysis provides at best weak support for class interest theory. Subjective class identification has a significant net effect on attitudes toward only two of eight class issues. While the Taiwan respondents are not generally conservative on these class issues, class identification appears to have little to do with whether one is conservative or nonconservative. A serendipitous finding concerns education, which more than any other variable had significant net effects on attitudes toward class issues. It is Taiwan's most educated who are the least conservative on class issues. This finding has parallels with what some observers of Europe and the United States have called the New Class. The paper concludes with a discussion of the reasons why class identification is only weakly consequential for class-relevant beliefs in Taiwan.

In: Comparative Sociology
In: Trust in Contemporary Society
Author: Robert Marsh

Abstract

A classic version of convergence theory was proposed by Marion Levy (1966) as part of his theory of modernization: if and as the level of modernization increases (defined as a higher ratio of reliance upon inanimate energy and tools, relative to animate energy), the level of structural uniformity among relatively modernized societies continually increases. This hypothesis that there is more uniformity among modernized than among non-modernized societies is tested here with cross-national data from 148 non-modernized and 52 modernized societies. Using the coefficient of variation (V) as the measure of convergence, I analyze a wide range of variables: level of economic development, capitalist market economy, demographic variables, technology, the state and political democracy, cognitive modernization, health, income inequality and poverty, gender particularism-universalism, and information and communications. I find that the modernized societies do show more convergence (lower V scores) than the non-modernized societies on 49 of the 51 variables tested. Among the 21 societies that were already modernized in 1965, as they became more modernized during the period from1965 to the present, they also became more convergent on 32 of the 45 variables analyzed. Thus, variation in social structure is greater among less modernized than among more modernized societies, and this has implications for theories of globalization.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert Marsh

Abstract

Values concerning religion, family and gender are conceptions of the desirable in these domains of life. Studies of development have shown that, instead of eagerly adopting modernity, people may resist it and adhere to traditional religious, family and gender values. Although Western societies increasingly move in the direction of modern values, the proportion of people in the world with traditional values may be increasing – given the higher fertility rates in less developed societies where traditional values are more common. This study develops a causal model of the social bases of support for traditional values: the individual's sex, age, education, occupational status and income; the level of socio-economic development of one's society; and the civilization of which one's society is a part. Multivariate regression analysis of data from representative samples of the populations of eighty societies in the 2000 (fourth) wave of the World Values Surveys confirms the hypotheses. Around the world, women are more traditional than men in religious values, but more modern in family and gender values. Traditional values are most often supported by older people, those of lower socio-economic status, living in less developed societies, in Islamic, Sub-Saharan African and Latin American civilizations.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert Marsh

Abstract

The reunification of Taiwan with China is one possible future development. Value differences can make the merging of two previously divided societies more difficult. How similar are the values – conceptions of the desirable – of the people now living in China and Taiwan? Representative national sample data from the World Values Surveys for both countries enable us to compare values in eleven domains. There are statistically significant differences on most values between respondents in the two societies, but the degree of difference varies among domains. The largest differences are found in religious values; lesser differences exist in trust and confidence, economic values, and values concerning the environment and science. Value similarities are greatest in the domains of family values, personal satisfaction, social stratification, and gender. The bearing of social structural conditions in China and Taiwan on these value differences and similarities is shown.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert M. Marsh

Abstract

One of the problems Amartya Sen raised in his capabilities approach was: why do people in some societies realize a much lower level of various kinds of human capabilities than would be expected on the basis of their GDP per capita, while other societies do better than expected? This paper focuses on six capabilities and functionings: life expectancy, schooling, living in a society with less income inequality and less gender inequality, political freedom and life satisfaction. Empirically I start with data on 156 societies and use regression analysis and case diagnostics to identify societies that are extreme outliers. These are identified as Singapore, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, each of which does significantly worse than expected (given their relatively high level of economic development) on two or more of the six capabilities. I then use qualitative analysis to specify, through “process-tracing”, the causal mechanisms that explain why these particular societies are so “unbalanced” in the relationship between their economic development and their human capabilities.

In: Comparative Sociology