Local Cultures and the "New Asia": The State, Culture, and Capitalism in Southeast Asia

Local Cultures and the "New Asia": The State, Culture, and Capitalism in Southeast Asia

Local Cultures and the "New Asia": The State, Culture, and Capitalism in Southeast Asia

Local Cultures and the "New Asia": The State, Culture, and Capitalism in Southeast Asia

Synopsis

Even though the globalizing logic of capitalism can be discerned in Southeast Asia, local conditions and cultures determine that capitalism will spread in different ways to its Western origins. This work examines how states may re-tool local cultures to fit capitalism's cultural specificities.

Excerpt

It has become less easy to understand economic development as a process in which “traditional” societies become modernized and rationalized as a unilinear transformational process of the world. This process, it is often thought, started from seventeenth-century Europe and went on to post-Second World War United States. the result of this process was that the cultures of all newcomers were increasingly made “the same”, or culturally homogenized.

The Japanese experience, important as the major and the first industrialized Asian society, has not been completely assimilable into this process of homogenization in terms of its values or social structures. the “unique Japan” hypothesis came about, in which Japanese tradition, instead of being seen as a retrograde element, was trumpeted as a vessel suited for economic development (McCormack and Sugimoto 1988).

The economic rise of other East Asian societies (including Singapore), and the newer Asian Tigers of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia) led to variants of the “unique Japan” hypothesis. One variant, of course, was the much-debated Confucianist model. the values of an underlying common culture, it was argued, fostered the virtues of austerity, harmony and group orientation, hard work, and a submissive attitude towards authority, contributing to rapid growth. the . . .

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