Industrialization and Development: A Comparative Analysis

By Ray Kiely | Go to book overview
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Chapter Ten

Capitalism, industrialization and alternatives

This book has focused on the questions of agency, lateness and development in various industrialization processes. In this final chapter, I briefly review the issues. Also, in returning to the question of socialism, I examine the questions raised by alternative industrialization strategies.


Agency and industrialization

The technological determinist case associated with, for example, the convergence thesis, should be rejected. Whilst technology is undoubtedly one factor in any case of industrialization, it clearly is not the only one. Social and political factors have been crucial in the taking of decisions on whether or not to adopt a particular technology, and the effect of this technology has had different effects on social groups such as classes and genders. Current debates around the potential of information technology must be seen in this light, just as historical decisions to invest in new technology should be situated in the context of specific social relations of production.

Questions around the agency for industrialization are historically specific. There is, then, a need for care in making generalizations. Insofar as these can be made, the most important question appears to revolve around the role of the state. All industrializations have relied on a strong state, but the later the industrialization, thegreater the needfor strong state intervention in the economy.1 States can of course be inefficient and oppressive, in both socialist and capitalist contexts. However, states are not necessarily inefficient. Markets, on the other hand, are unequal, hierarchical and incapable of working without the existence of states.

Actually existing industrializations rest on the development of a particular social structure of accumulation (SSA). This refers to

the complex of institutions which support the process of capital accumulation. The central idea of the SSA approach is that a long period of relatively rapid and stable economic expansion requires an effective SSA. 2 (Kotz et al. 1994:1)

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