My co-author, Dalei Jie, and I recently finished our report on Political Elites, New Media and Youth: A Comparative Study of China vs. Taiwan, funded by UPenn GAPSA-Provost Interdisciplinary Research Award 2008. When we wrote the presentation slides together, Dalei added a final sentence that shocked me first. Later on I realized that it is exactly what I wanted to but did not dare to say.
"What is bad for democracy might not be bad for the cross-strait relationship."
The story goes like this: We found that youth from both China and Taiwan have mixed feeling about the cross-strait relationship. Chinese young people have strong sense of nationalism but feel unsatisfied by the political situations in both areas. They tend to be confused and opt for practical goals such as making money. Taiwan young people grew up with a clear local identification but do not completely deny the fact of being Chinese. They tend to dis-trust their political leaders and also, opt for practical goals such as living a happy life. But the symptoms of these mentalities are indifference to politics and lack of activeness in advocating a solution. Political apathy is considered as bad for democracy. However, it functions as a factor that stabilizes the cross-strait relationship in this case.
Here is an example of civic participation as a norm.
The Civic Potential of Video Games
The logic is: as long as games are promoting civic participation, they are not something evil. I am not saying this logic is anything wrong. Just realize that it might not be applicable in any cases.
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I am an Associate Professor at Department of Communication and New Media, National University of Singapore.