Urban Hysteresis and Anti-Left Sentiments in Asia: Beyond the Global Middle-Class Thesis

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This paper explores why anti-left sentiments have recently emerged in some Asian cities and, in particular, why urban middle classes have frequently, if not persistently, protested against the socioeconomic reforms of new left governments. The global middle-class thesis ascribes the emergence of anti-left sentiments to the liberal-democratic ideology and conservative values of the affluent middle classes. However, this paper does not characterize these anti-left sentiments as ideological or valuedriven conflicts. Alternatively, this paper argues that this phenomenon has stemmed from the immediate reactions, or hysteresis, of the middle classes to the critical instability that the new left governments have caused in their taken-for-granted lifestyles in unique urban spaces. To corroborate the argument, this paper compares the cases of the most contentious middle classes in three East and Southeast Asian countries, including Japan's wage earners or salarymen, South Korea's self-employed, and Thailand's urban professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-259
Number of pages41
JournalTaiwanese Political Science Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean government (NRF-2016-S1A3A2 925063) Manuscript received 11 February 2017, revised 28 February 2017, accepted 7 March 2017. DOI: 10.6683/TPSR.201706.21(1).219-259

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 Taiwanese Political Science Association. All Rights Reserved.


  • Anti-left sentiments
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • Urban hysteresis


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