Narratives of Civic Duty: How National Stories Shape Democracy in Asia
In Narratives of Civic Duty, Aram Hur investigates the impulse behind a sense of civic duty in democracies. Why, she asks, do some citizens feel a responsibility to vote, pay taxes, or take up arms in defense of one's country? Through comparing democratic societies in East Asia and elsewhere, Hur shows that the sense of obligation to be a good citizen—upon which the resilience of a democracy depends—emerges from a force long thought detrimental to democracy itself: national attachments.
Nationalism's illiberal and exclusive tendencies are typically viewed as disruptive to democratic processes, but Hur argues that there is nothing inherently anti-democratic about nationalism. Rather, whether nationalism helps or hinders democracy is shaped by the historicized relationship between a national people and their democratic state. When national stories portray that relationship as one of mutual commitment, nationalism strengthens democracies by motivating widespread civic duty among citizens. Drawing on personal narratives, statistical surveys, and experiments, Narratives of Civic Duty offers a provocative national theory of civic duty that cuts to the heart of what makes democracies thrive.
The book won the 2023 Robert A. Dahl Award for "scholarship of the highest quality on the subject of democracy" by an untenured scholar from the American Political Science Association. It is the first book on East Asian democracies to join the Dahl list, and only the second time--in nearly half a century--that a book on Korean politics has won a disciplinary-level book award from APSA.
"Hur's incisive exploration of what shapes civic duty compels us to rethink assumptions that strong nationalism is detrimental to liberal democracy. The array of qualitative and quantitative methods she uses makes this book a model of comparative research done well." Celeste Arrington, The George Washington University, author of Accidental Activists
"By theorizing civic duty as a potentially positive and moral dimension of nationalism, Hur complicates the prevailing assumption that nationalism is detrimental to liberal democracy. A thoughtful, compelling book." Stephan Haggard, University of California, San Diego, author of Dictators and Democrats