Ting Chang

Date of Graduation


Document Type



This dissertation discusses the “construction” and “enhancement” of national identity and its relevance and “implications” for political participation and uses Taiwan as a case study. Among other things, the uniqueness, diversity, complexity, importance, urgency, and criticality of national identity in Taiwan motivates the author to examine national identity’s formation, enhancement, and implications for political participation by using the Taiwan case in particular. In terms of the formation of Taiwan’s national identity, this dissertation broadens the traditional way of measuring national identity in Taiwan. Not only are self-identity and attitudes toward China incorporated, but also party identification, ethnicity, and language are newly added into the so called “national identity cleavage variable” based on the primordialism, instrumentalism, and constructivism on national identity. The above three approaches to national identity also represent the main cleavages in Taiwan’s society. In terms of the enhancement of Taiwan’s national identity, this dissertation applies the rational choice theory and emphasizes the two exogenous pillars, economic confidence and consolidated democracy. Long-term focused endogenous factors like ethnicity not only have an effect on a pro-Taiwan national identity, but also other factors such as Taiwanese evaluations of economical and political performances matter as well. In terms of the relationship between national identity and political participation, the newly added national identity related variables synthesized with the socio-economic model, the political engagement part of the civic voluntarism model, and the economic confidence and consolidated democracy model will be able to explain better the specific political participation in Taiwan in 2001. Particularly, attitudes toward China have a statistically significant effect on voting, while political engagement factors are significant to campaign activity. This suggests that people in Taiwan are highly psychologically oriented. Both voting and campaign activity belong to separate types of electoral political participation based on different nature. The partisanship factor also matters in all types of political participation in this study except contact, meaning Taiwan still has a traditional type of political participation. In terms of methodology and data, this dissertation applies ordinary least squares, logistic regression, and ordered logistic regression on the Asian Barometer data collected in Taiwan in 2001 based on different characteristics of the dependent variables. This dissertation is designed to develop a new way of observing national identity from a cleavage point of view for application in future studies; a traditional single approach would only emphasize self-identity or attitudes. Some of the more important findings of this dissertation are as follows: First, globally, Taiwan’s national identity is vertically in the conflict stage while horizontally, social, political, and cultural aspects are significant to discuss in order to represent the multi-dimensional perspectives. Second, because of the new emphasis of the exogenous economic confidence and consolidated democracy factors on a pro-Taiwan national identity, it is hoped that the findings of this study will encourage elites and political parties to utilize a positive and rational mobilization strategy rather than a negative and harmful one during elections. Also, it is the state level and current and future economic confidence that enhance a pro-Taiwan national identity rather than mere past economic achievements. Third, this study identifies and relies on four complementary models for explaining Taiwan’s electoral and non-electoral political participation. The role of the political party reflecting social cleavage, particularly national identity in the Taiwan case, changes its focus from encouraging the opposition movement in the past to facilitating political participation now and in the predictable future. To understand and explain national identity in Taiwan is not only an inevitable task in domestic politics but also an unavoidable challenge in improving its international status. Through this dissertation, the author hopes to encourage a more diverse angle of observing national identity cleavages in Taiwan, a wider possibility of explaining a pro-Taiwan national identity enhancement, and a newly emphasized national identity scope of explaining political participation.