A POST-CONFUCIAN CIVIL SOCIETY: LIBERAL COLLECTIVISM AND PARTICIPATORY POLITICS IN SOUTH KOREA
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This dissertation explores how South Koreans have creatively appropriated the meanings of democratic civility and national citizenship using Confucianism-originated familial affectionate sentiments (chŏng), while refusing their liberal individualistic counterparts through a cross-cultural and comparative theoretical approach. By investigating four recent civil-action cases in South Korea, it argues that the chŏng-induced politico-cultural practice of collective moral responsibility (uri-responsibility), which transcends the binary of individualism and collectivism and of liberalism and nationalism, represents the essence of Korean democratic civility. It theorizes the ethical quality that uri-responsibility generates, when practiced in the public sphere of a national civil society, in terms of "transcendental collectivism," and claims that unlike a liberal civil society aiming to empower the independent self's individual agency, the post-Confucian dialectic between agency and citizenship is focused on the interdependent selves' shard cultural-political identity, collective freedom, and democratic citizenship. This dissertation generalizes the liberal yet non-individualistic political practices that transcendental collectivism promotes in terms of "liberal collectivism" as opposed to liberal individualism, and argues that liberal collectivism has great potential to contribute to both liberal nationalism and participatory democracy in post-Confucian Korea.