ABSTRACT

The chapters in this volume emphasize the ways in which Taiwan’s deepening engagement with mainland China since the late 1980s has affected the island. As important as that trend has been, it is but one of the forces that helped transform Taiwan at the end of the twentieth century. Taiwan’s society also experienced accelerated economic development and, perhaps most importantly, democratization. These three trends’ roots are intertwined; each helped drive the others in complex ways, and together they reshaped the island’s ideological and institutional landscapes. The Taiwan that today’s young adults inhabit is utterly different from the one in which their parents grew up. Where their parents endured privation, they enjoy prosperity. Where their parents experienced political repression, they participate in democracy. And where their parents saw danger across the Strait, they see opportunity (and also risk). As result, today’s young people constitute a distinct political generation. But theirs is not the only identifiable political generation in Taiwan. In a 2006 publication, I described four political generations in Taiwan. Now, seven years later, it is possible to describe a fifth (Rigger 2006). This chapter uses data drawn from the Taiwan Elections and Democratization Surveys from 2012 and 2008 to reveal the distinctive attitudinal patterns that characterize each of these five generations.1 It pays particular attention to the fifth generation, the group shaped most strongly by the cross-cutting influences of democratization and the China impact.