Networks, Politics, and the Literary Public Sphere: The Foundation of Modern Democracy in Taiwan (1970s–1990s)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This article examines how literature is a networked social space of political repression and resistance, refracting broader contestations over national sovereignty, self-determination, and identity. Politicizing the traditionally apolitical “world of letters” in Habermas’s Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, this article employs a novel analysis of the influence that the literary public sphere wields over political consciousness. Using the historical case of Taiwan’s literary networks from the 1970s to the 1990s, this article asserts that the literary public sphere produces a rational-critical generalization of knowledge and exposure to dissonant perspectives that invigorates civil society by creating intelligentsia. Through intelligentsia, ideas within the Taiwanese literary public sphere birthed powerful Dangwai parties that instituted democracy, informed their platforms, and ushered in a new wave of political elites. The Taiwanese case demonstrates how civic tasks can predict political tasks with enough force to stimulate a unique postcolonial political consciousness and spark a revolution.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • East Asia
  • historical networks
  • historical sociology
  • Jürgen Habermas
  • literary public sphere
  • politics and literature
  • social change and modernization
  • sociological theory
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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