Narratives of Civic Duty
How National Stories Shape Democracy in Asia
Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University
Published by: Cornell University Press
216 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 2 charts, 11 graphs
- ISBN: 9781501766213
- Published: November 2022
In Narratives of 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 Duty offers a provocative national theory of civic duty that cuts to the heart of what makes democracies thrive.