Recent studies on causes of intergovernmental transformation in old and new democracies have found that decentralization is often the outcome of negotiations between national and local political interests. South Korea is commonly believed to be an exception because local elections and institutions introduced in the early 1990s were, by and large, the product of negotiations among political elites at the centre, without significant inclusion of local actors. However, this article attempts to explicate a hitherto ignored aspect of decentralization reform in Korea: the role of civil society and local activism in the politics of decentralization. In the 2000s, several ‘triggering events’ such as economic instability, democratic consolidation, emergence of civilian leaders, and the growth of civil society provided a strong momentum for the decentralization movement. We demonstrate how civic organizations at both national and local levels have played significant roles in proposing and pushing for decentralization, and argue that the bottom-up movement for decentralization under the Roh Moo-hyun administration was surprisingly well mobilized and institutionalized, especially at the agenda-setting stage.
civil society, decentralization, local democracy, South Korea, democratization
Asian Studies | Political Science
Taylor and Francis
BAE, Yooil, & KIM, Sunhyuk.(2012). Civil society and local activism in South Korea's local democratization. Democratization, 20(2), 260-286.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/soss_research/1051
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