4: The importance of political contexts

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This chapter take a deep dive into the importance of the political when it comes to shaping and explaining welfare attitudes in East Asian societies. To do so we set out the trends when it comes to what citizens think should be role and responsibility of government and about the performance of government and then move on to consider what political factors may explain these views. Again, there is no one model across these countries, and political systems and attitudes matter differently depending on society and political system in a society. This is particularly so in mainland China. We also look at the importance of what has been called Asian values and find that, in the societies studied, those citizens who value the importance of obeying a ruler give greater support for redistribution. We find traces of cultural patterns as we uncover negative attitudes towards work being a duty and the view that people who do not work are lazy in all countries, but more so in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. However, work being a duty is a shared value across societies. The chapter explores what may explain these trends, comparing what explains welfare attitudes in different political systems.

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