Research Statement 

I am an Assistant Professor of Foreign Studies at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan, and specialize in East Asia, Comparative Political Economy, and International Relations. I received my AB in economics from the University of California, Berkeley (2004), studied Korean at Seoul National University, and finished off with my PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan (2013). My research interests range widely and cut across many fields within the social sciences but are centered most prominently on the causes of democratization and the consequences thereof on state actor behavior including but not limited to policy choices, implementation, and outcomes. In my dissertation for example, I sought to understand why political elites within developed democracies, with high levels of state capacity tolerate, and in some cases, directly cooperate with non-state purveyors of coercion such as paramilitaries, mafia type organizations, and vigilantes, in the domestic market for force. Based on my findings, obtained through an in-depth field research study carried out in South Korea, I argue that a state’s monopoly and policies over the use of violence purposefully varies and in large part reflects not only levels of state capacity, but the overall state-society balance of power as well. In particular, the cases studied illustrate the difficulty of implementing policy and provision of public goods in the face of declining state autonomy from societal forces.

While previous research has linked illicit violence to weak or failing states, my study is unique in its empirical and theoretical focus on economically and politically developed governments. Adding to the uniqueness of my study, I relied extensively on primary materials, interviews and personal observations with police, bureaucrats, politicians, journalists, business people, mafia members, and victims, over the course of one year of intensive fieldwork.

Media Coverage: 

In the Classroom: 

I have had the privilege of teaching at the University of Michigan (as a Graduate Student Instructor), Hosei University (full time), Tokyo Gaidai University (adjunct), Temple University (adjunct), and Kansai Gaidai University (full-time, tenured). The following are courses I have taught as the lead instructor: 

  • Human Evolution and the Development of Homo-Politicus (Course under-development)**

  • Introduction to Political Science

  • Introduction to Comparative Politics

  • Introduction to International Politics

  • Introduction to Public Policy

  • Public Policy in East Asia

  • International Political Economy

  • The Political Economy of East Asia 

  • Comparative Politics of Development and Democratization

  • Japanese Politics and Public Policy

  • Korean Politics and Public Policy

  • American Politics and Public Policy 

  • Academic Skills & Writing for the Social Sciences

Courses/areas taught as a Graduate Student Instructor (University of Michigan)

  • Introduction to Comparative Politics (with Dr. Ronald Inglehart)

  • Introduction to Japanese Politics (with Dr. Kenneth McElwain)

  • Introduction to Southeast Asian Politics (with Dr. Allen Hicken)

  • Introduction to Chinese Politics (with Dr. Mary Gallagher) 


Selected abstracts of my work  (Japanese and English)

要旨:Porteux, J. "Reactive Nationalism, Public Policy, and Foreign Affairs of South Korea" (The Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus; May 1st, 2016, Issue 9, Number 5)


Abstract: This article investigates the emergence, evolution, and political salience of South Korean nationalism, predominately in the post-WWII era. In particular, this article is divided into the pre-democratic and post-democratic periods, with the first section dealing with how nationalistic passions were suppressed and manipulated by successive authoritarian regimes, in their drive towards security and economic development. The subsequent section examines how democratization in South Korea has opened up institutional channels for the emergence of grassroots nationalism, and how this new phenomenon has, and continues to affect domestic policies and foreign policy as manifested in the inter-Korean conflict, anti-American activism, and continuing anti-Japanese sentiments over the legacies of colonialism.

要旨:Porteux, J. & S. Kim. Public Ordering of Private Coercion: Urban Redevelopment and Democratization in Korea (Cambridge Press, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 16, Issue 3, November 2016 (p. 371-390))

この研究は、民間の強制行為を行う際の、国で働く者と非国家で働く専門家との協同の発展について調査する。 韓国では民間の建物の取り壊しをする会社による暗黙の、時には明白な不法な暴力行為が国の認可の元で行われ続けており、この韓国で行われている強制退去のケースについて焦点を絞る。この程度の国家と民間の安全協力は、国家がコンプライアンスをさせることには弱い力であるという議論、国家の一般的なネオリベラル マーケタイゼーションの傾向、特定のビジネス界や資本家によって攻略された結果など以前からあらゆる仮説によって説明されてきている。韓国での都市再開発計画とそれに対する抗議事件への国の対応の変化の歴史を実証すると、民間警備隊のニッチ市場とそれを支える政治的な取り決めは、民主化後の国家—社会の関係の進化のシフトを観察することができると主張する。この現象は、国家のエリートによる民主化への非常に非民主的な対応である。

Abstract: This study explores the evolution of collaboration between state actors and nonstate specialists in the market for private coercion. We focus on the case of forced evictions in South Korea, where illicit violence carried out by private demolition service companies has occurred, and continues to occur, with the implicit, and at times explicit, sanctioning of the state. This level of government-private security cooperation has traditionally been explained by various hypotheses, including arguments about the weak material capacity of a state to enforce compliance, general trends in the neo-liberal marketization of state power, and the outcome of a state being captured by the economic interests of particular business actors or the capitalist class in general. Documenting the history of urban redevelopment projects and changes in government responses to major protest incidents in Korea, we instead argue that this niche market for private force, as well as the political arrangements that sustain it, is an observable implication of an evolutionary shift in state-society relations in the wake of democratization. This phenomenon is, in effect, a very undemocratic response to democratization by state elites.

要旨: S. Kim and J. Porteux. Adapting Violence for State Survival and Legitimacy: The Resilience and Dynamism of Political Repression in a Democratizing South Korea (Democratization, forthcoming, 2019)

Abstract: Capacity in violence and its utilization is generally understood to be a first-order condition of the state-building process. As capacity increases and a state gains supremacy over would-be competitors, the use of violence by the state is hypothesized to decline, especially in polities that have made the democratic transition. However, we here demonstrate theoretically and empirically that conventional wisdom is inadequate. We argue that political violence ubiquitously evolves according to the changing socio-political environment and varying tasks of the state.

Using the case of South Korea, a high-capacity, consolidated democracy, as a prism for theory building and corroboration, this study chronicles the evolution of political violence from the state’s explicit mobilization of thugs to suppress opposition at the early stage of state building through its collaboration with criminal organizations for developmental projects to the manipulation of quasi-governmental organizations after democratization in the late 1980s, coeval with the traditional use of public sources of force. We specifically look at how political development, i.e., democratization, has produced new demands for—and constraints on—political violence and how post-authoritarian governments have responded.

要旨:Porteux, J. & Choi, K.J. “Leviathan for Sale: Maritime Police Privatization, Administrative Contamination, and the Sewol Disaster in South Korea” (Under Review)

2014年4月16日の朝、韓国の仁川から済州島に向かって航行していた大型旅客船「セウォル号」が、476人の乗客を乗せたまま、転覆し始めた。最終的に沈没するまでに遭難信号を送り続けた上、沿岸からわずか1.7kmほどの地点であったにもかかわらず、294名の乗船客が死亡した。乗客のほとんどが高校生で、10名の行方不明者が含まれていた(Kim & Kim 2014, 106)。犠牲者が助けを求め、明らかに傍観者が見守る中、韓国沿岸警備隊と海軍による特別救助部隊が活動を妨害されたために、この惨事は、誰にとっても感傷的なものであるという以上に、人々を苛立たせたるものとなった。これは、軍内部の管轄権をめぐる混乱によって起こったものであり、また、最も言語道断かつ逆説的なことに、(事故現場に)遅れて到着した、海難救助事業において排他的権利を有する民間企業のウンディーネ・マリン・インダストリー社と(海軍と)の間で、管轄権の対立が生じた結果によるものであった。



Abstract: "On the morning of 16 April 2014, a ferry carrying 476 passengers from Incheon, South Korea en route to Jeju-do Island began to capsize. Despite having sent distress signals prior to the eventual sinking, and only being roughly 1.7 kilometres off the Korean coast, 294 passengers, mostly high school students perished, with 10 still unaccounted.  (Kim & Kim 2014, 106). Making this disaster even more offensive to common sentimentality, while victims waited and onlookers conspicuously present, South Korea`s Coast Guard and Naval special rescue operations were prevented from being deployed. This was due to inter-service jurisdictional confusion, and most egregiously and paradoxically, as a result of jurisdictional conflict with the late arriving Undine Marine Industries, Co., a private firm which held near exclusive rights over sea rescue and salvage.

In this article, through the lens of the Sewol Disaster, we argue and empirically demonstrate that the privatization of maritime police and rescue services in South Korea, rather than being a function of weak state-capacity or of the state seeking the economic efficiencies of the private market, is an observable outcome and implication of a newly democratized polity in which reduction of public budgets was, and remains to be, a quick and profitable way to garner short-term populist political support. As a result of this new competitive environment, opportunities for bureaucratic rent-seeking emerged. This, coupled with a willing private-sector ready to capitalize on the opportunity results in the privatization of core state-based services.”

要旨:Porteux, J. "Police, Paramilitaries, Nationalists, and Gangsters: The Processes of State Building in Korea," 2013. PhD Dissertation (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, UMI Press)



国家で働く者と違法な組織を結ぶ公平で定量化できるデータは入手不可能である。 私の主要な分析は、1年間の韓国でのフィールドワークに基づいており、警察、検察官、ジャーナリスト、マフィアメンバーと犠牲者のインタビューから収集された証拠を利用している。

Abstract: This dissertation seeks to understand why developed democracies with high state capacity tolerate, and in some cases cooperate with organizations which engage in criminal violence, such as paramilitaries, mafia organizations, and vigilantes.  The symbiotic relationship between these groups is surprisingly common, but it blurs the lines between legitimate and illegitimate use of violence and allows political actors to circumvent democratic checks on state authority.  While previous research has linked illicit violence to weak or failing states, my study is unique in its empirical and theoretical focus on both economically and politically developed governments.

It is argued that state monopoly over the use of violence purposefully varies.  Political actors must continually exercise their authority in the face of both resource and politically driven constraints in the complex processes of state building, and state maintaining. In the face of resource constraints, political actors sub-contract violence in order to extend their reach and expand their forces. Sub-contracting as a result of principally politically driven constraints however, serves two goals beyond an expansion of forces. First, it allows political actors to distance themselves from police actions deemed illiberal—and hence unpopular—by society. Second, because criminal groups are extra-legal organizations, subcontracting allows the state to avoid transparency and accountability constraints.  The choice to subcontract is thus conditioned not only by the end goal, but also by social pressures regarding appropriate means to bring about preferred outcomes.  Importantly, the political payoffs from subcontracting are high in states with high levels of operational capacity, as they can best manage the potential risk that criminal groups metastasize and challenge state authority directly. 

Unbiased, quantifiable data on the linkage between state actors and illicit organizations are—largely by design—impossible to obtain.  My primary analysis is based on a year of fieldwork in South Korea, utilizing evidence gleaned from interviews with the police, prosecutors, journalists, mafia members, and victims.