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Nam Center Colloquium Series | Master or Servant? Public Opinion, Polling, and Democratic Responsiveness in Korea

Taeku Lee, Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law, University of California Berkeley
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
4:00-5:30 PM
Room 1636 School of Social Work Building Map
This event was rescheduled from March 15, due to weather-related issues.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science and Political Scientists of Color (PSOC).

"Political responsiveness" is a foundation stone of modern democracies, entailing an expectation that governments will heed and reckon the interests and demands of the polities they govern over and for with some regularity. To date the political science study of responsiveness is largely the province of scholars of American politics and its presence sought by matching the timing of changes in public opinion (as measured by opinion polls) to the timing of legislative debate and decision. This paper aims to extend the parameters of the study of political responsiveness in several aspects. First, it examines responsiveness in non-U.S. contexts, with South Korea as the primary focus and comparisons to Taiwan and Japan. Second, it adopts a more critical standpoint on the nature of public opinion and its relation to polling and political responsiveness. Rather than assuming that polls correspond faithfully to mass opinion qua democratic publics, it unpacks this association by tracing the historical evolution of modern polling and assessing the quality of polling data as a measure of mass opinion. Third, rather than testing for the statistical congruence of polling data and legislative action, this paper relies principally on in-depth interviews of experts representing the organizational field of polling on elections and politics in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. The (preliminary) findings show a far more multifaceted, if not democratically distressing, view of the relationship between polling, public opinion, and political responsiveness than previous, U.S.-based accounts of "rational publics."

Taeku Lee is Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law at Berkeley. He has written or edited Mobilizing Public Opinion (Chicago 2002); Transforming Politics, Transforming America (with Ricardo Ramí­rez and S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, Virginia 2006), Why Americans Don't Join the Party (with Zoltan Hajnal, Princeton 2011), Asian American Political Participation (with Janelle Wong, S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, Jane Junn, Russell Sage 2011) and Accountability through Public Opinion (with Sina Odugbemi, World Bank, 2011). Mobilizing Public Opinion received the J. David Greenstone and the V.O. Key book award in 2003; Why Americans Don't Join the Party was awarded the best book award from the Race and Ethnic Politics section of the American Political Science Association.

Lee is currently Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-Principal Investigator of the National Asian American Survey. Lee has served in various leadership, advisory, and consultative capacities including the Board of the American National Election Studies, the Board of the General Social Survey, and the Council of the American Political Science Association. Prior to coming to Berkeley, he was Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School and Robert Wood Johnson Scholar at Yale. Lee was born in South Korea, grew up in rural Malaysia, Manhattan, and suburban Detroit, and is a proud graduate of K-12 public schools, the University of Michigan (AB), Harvard University (MPP), and the University of Chicago (PhD).
Building: School of Social Work Building
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Asia, Politics
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Nam Center for Korean Studies, International Institute, Asian Languages and Cultures, Department of Political Science, Political Scientists of Color (PSOC)