Transition and Transfer in Germany and South Korea
Edited By Eun-Jeung Lee and Hannes B. Mosler
Ideological Conflict in Civil Society and Korean Democracy in Trouble
This analysis illuminates the ideological fragmentation process of South Korean civil society after democratization. While the division of civil society after democratization between conservatives and progressives was not an entirely new phenomenon, the study focuses on how the fragmentation changed in quality during the 2000s. The essay also identifies a contrast in political dynamics between the underdevelopment of political representation and the overpoliticization of an ideologically divided civil society.
During the past decades, the term ‘civil society’ had enormous normative significance in the literature about democracy and democratization. It often was understood as the school of civic virtues, as the agent of democratization, and as a functional prerequisite for democracy. At the same time, however, many historical observations and empirical studies have shown that the meaning of civil society in the democratization process and within democratic system is not self-evident, but much more complex and ambivalent than advocates of the normative idea of civil society believed in the early phase of democratic transition (Arato 1993; Croissant 2003; Croissant and Trinn 2009; Diamond 1994; Klinke, Renn, and Lehners 1997).
Among many issues concerning this theme, this article focuses on the ideological conflict within civil society after the transition from authoritarian to democratic regime, and its impact on a new democracy in South Korea. Democracy allowed freedom and participation in many post-authoritarian societies, but it also facilitated the politicization of diverse social forces ← 73 | 74 → with ideological ambitions based on political, regional, religious, or ethnic cleavages....
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