This study explores the most fundamental issue of identity politics in Taiwan, namely, the dimensionality of and the delicate relationship between ethnic identity and national identity. By applying latent class (LC) factor analysis to 12 items of the Taiwan’s Election and Democratization Study (TEDS) 2001 survey, we first confirm that Taiwanese/Chinese identity and national identity are two analytically different dimensions. We then employ LC cluster analysis to determine the number of latent classes in each of these two dimensions. We find that the so-called ‘objective’ measure of the ‘four major ethnic groups’ based on respondents’ fathers’ ethnicity does not correspond very well with either of the two dimensions of identity. Furthermore, the distribution of national identity among ethnic groups displays much greater variation than only a Taiwanese/Chinese identity does. More specifically, mainlanders show the highest degree of homogeneity in national identity, whereas native Taiwanese show substantial heterogeneity. Although our findings do not defy the common practice of using a fathers’ ethnicity as an ‘objective’ indicator of ethnicity, they do remind us that identity politics in Taiwan are multidimensional in nature and deserve more careful study.
Journal of Asian and African Studies, 40(1/2), 51-70