Asian States: Beyond the Developmental Perspective

Asian States: Beyond the Developmental Perspective

Asian States: Beyond the Developmental Perspective

Asian States: Beyond the Developmental Perspective

Synopsis

'Asian States' offers a re-examination of the theoretical claims & the empirical foundation of developmental state theory, arguing that regardless of the merits of the developmental state as an explanation of economic growth, it falls far short of being an adequate theory in the Asian context.

Excerpt

This is the first volume in a series of publications that aims to return power and history to a central position in the study of Asian political economies. Our motivation is a sense of dissatisfaction with the overwhelming preoccupation with growth and development in the study of Asia. the growth paradigm has grabbed and held the political science of Asia by the throat for more than twenty-five years, leaving it little enough breath to do much more than say which nations have succeeded or which nations have failed to develop and what has been the “contribution” of politics to these. of course, the importance of growth and development is not to be denied. But there are problems and issues that are not reducible to economic success and failure. in particular, questions of the state, politics, and power cannot be captured in measures of efficiency and effectiveness. Impatience with this state of affairs prompted us to engage in a long-term project on the political economy of Asia in comparative and historical perspective (PEACH). the hope is that the project will marry a rigorous social science approach to a concern with long-run history as well as language and culture. the aim is to produce a richer and reinvigorated study of Asia.

The first concrete result of the peach initiative was a conference held in Leiden in June 2002 on the theme “Revisiting the Asian State.” More than sixty scholars, among them anthropologists, historians, sociologists, political scientists, and political economists, gathered to debate a wide range of topics covering many of the countries of Asia. One of the most rewarding features of the event was the strong sense we gained that our reservations-about the narrowness of debates and the urgent need to broaden the research focus-were shared by colleagues working on the region. Shortly thereafter, for all the richness and variety of contributions, it became apparent that there are two broad areas of concern. One of these is precisely the need to emancipate the study of Asian political economies from the growth paradigm. the present volume represents the crystallization of those ideas that attempt to understand Asian states from beyond a developmental perspective.

A second theme that emerged takes issue with the projection onto Asia of a simplified Weberian conception of the modern state. That conception owes much to an idealized understanding of the European state which is robustly indifferent to the particularity of states in Asia. Ironically, Weber himself warned

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