[Abstract] Who Supports the Sunflower Movement? An Examination of Nationalist Sentiments

The Sunflower Movement—an occupation of the Legislative Yuan (the Congress) for 24 days—was an unprecedented moment in the history of Taiwan. We examine the social foundation of the Movement and explore an important factor that has long been missing in the literature of Taiwanese politics: nationalism. We divide nationalism into three dimensions: national attachment, national chauvinism, and feelings toward other countries. Using original survey data collected six months after the Movement, we find that national attachment (being proud of Taiwan) and anti-China feelings are unique dimensions and both lead to a higher level of support for the Sunflower Movement. National chauvinism, on the other hand, is not associated with supports for the Movement. Furthermore, the impact of nationalism is contingent on sociotropic views. People who express higher levels of nationalism are more responsive to the issue of rising income inequality when evaluating the Movement. The underlying logic is when people are more nationalistic they care more about the potential social impact of expanding socio-economic exchanges with another country. These results point to it being necessary to disentangle various components of nationalism and further investigate their effects on individuals’ political behaviors.

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