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Asian Journal of Comparative Politics

New Research Findings Defy Expectations

Political Science PhD student, Oldrich Bubak’s recent comparative study of public opinion comes to some intriguing conclusions.

Oct 25, 2018

Do you believe effort rather than luck determines individual success? This seemingly straightforward question recurrent in many public opinion surveys asks about attitudes shaped by factors far from easily understood. Its answers vary greatly across—and even within—jurisdictions, suggesting that social geography, economics, history, public philosophies, culture, and individual conditions and predispositions may all play a role here. Captivated by the diversity of these views across the globe, Oldrich Bubak set out to explore the factors influencing the individual perceptions of merit as opposed to chance as the determinant of success. The aim was to enhance our understanding of beliefs seen as fundamental in the debates and critiques of social systems in general, and of equality of opportunity and outcomes in particular—an integral part of Bubak’s research program focusing on various dimensions of social policy.

Bubak’s timely study “Perceptions of meritocracy: A note on China” examines the views of people in China and Taiwan, two polities sharing history and culture while diverging in their economic and political institutions. Is it culture—the Confucian emphasis on social trust, diligence, ongoing self-improvement, and learning—or socioeconomics which mainly determine one’s endorsement of meritocracy? The answers, far from intuitive, can be found in Bubak’s new article in the Asian Journal of Comparative Politics.