Predictors of Asian adolescents’ democratic understanding

Kerry John KENNEDY, Xiaxoue KUANG

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


Research on students’ attitudes to democracy has largely focused on democratic processes such as participation and engagement. In these times when democracy is under threat, understanding its principles seems equally important. This is particularly true in Asian contexts where the concept of Asia’s “soft authoritarianism” has been used, and where there is a continued influence of Confucian values in the region. These conflicting cultural and political values are often held in balance by the region’s young people. Yet little is known about what predicts young people’s understanding of democracy and consequently how such understanding is best facilitated. The present chapter assesses Asian student’s understanding of democracy, using measures present in IEA’s International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) 2016. In particular, we focus on students from Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, and Korea. Structural equation modeling was used to assess how much each of the selected predictors contributes to explaining students’ understanding of democracy. Results pose challenges for schools. On the one hand, school based civic learning combined with political discussion outside of schools were the strongest predictors of students’ understanding of rights and opportunities connected with democracy. Yet more research is needed to assist students’ greater understanding of different aspects of democracy, particularly the threat posed by anti-democratic behavior. This study has shown that preparing young Asian students for the future will require them to have a broader understanding of democracy in order to meet the challenges ahead. Copyright © 2021 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGood citizenship for the next generation: A global perspective using IEA ICCS 2016 data
EditorsErnesto TREVIÑO, Diego CARRASCO, Ellen CLAES, Kerry J. KENNEDY
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9783030757465
ISBN (Print)9783030757458, 9783030757489
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Kennedy, K. J., & Kuang, X. (2021). Predictors of Asian adolescents’ democratic understanding. In E. Treviño, D. Carrasco, E. Claes, & K. J. Kennedy (Eds.), Good citizenship for the next generation: A global perspective using IEA ICCS 2016 data (pp. 171-191). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.


  • Citizenship norms
  • Duty-based citizenship
  • Engaged citizenship
  • Latent class analysis
  • International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS)


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