Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. James Butterfield

Second Advisor

Dr. William A. Ritchie

Third Advisor

Dr. Steven Benfell

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Vyacheslav G. Karpov


This dissertation seeks to explain the evolutionary process of Korean civil society throughout the 1970s and 1980s as a foundation for democratization. I argue that the changing character of civil society in the mid-1980s was a necessary condition for democratic transition in 1987. Thus, this study focuses on how an ineffective civil society became sufficiently effective to be a deciding factor in Korea’s democratic transition, and seeks to define what factors led to the change. In the process of development of civil society, several factors, such as political culture, economic development, political opportunity structure, and the external environment, affected the character of civil society. Most factors had an initial obstructive effect on the character of democratic civil society, and thus it remained divided, isolated, and ineffective during the 1970s and early 1980s. This ineffective character began to shift to an active, united, assertive, and effective character from the mid-1980s by the favorable and simultaneous influence of those factors. Moreover, the middle class who had been passive in supporting democratic civil society and its struggles with the authoritarian regime began to support and participate actively in the democratic movement after the general election in 1985. Due to these changes, democratic civil society began to attain counter-hegemony against the regime and forced it to make concessions in 1987. This study demonstrates several findings. First, the changing character of democratic civil society was a foundation for the democratic transition. Second, the crucial condition for changing the character of civil society was that those internal and external elements should affect the character, both favorably and simultaneously. Third, along with the influence of domestic and international elements, the active support of the middle class was essential to the success of civil society in the mid- 1980s.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access