What determines how ASEAN is perceived by the citizens of its member states? Most studies on ASEAN take a state-centric and elite-oriented viewpoint. We improve on this by bringing the people of ASEAN into the center of the analysis. Considering lessons from the European Union’s internal legitimacy crisis, we develop hypotheses on how skill-based economic interests, sociocultural beliefs, and assessments of national context shape people’s attitude to ASEAN. Our hypotheses are tested using the latest data from the Asian Barometer Survey, covering eight of the 10 ASEAN countries. We find that citizen confidence in domestic governance and a positive assessment of major extra-regional powers are associated with a closer identification with ASEAN. Our analysis also identifies age and gender cleavages. ASEAN affinity is higher among older rather than younger and male rather than female respondents. Our findings have important policy implications for the proponents of ASEAN.

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