Academic journal article Contemporary Southeast Asia

East Asia: Prospects for the New Decade

Academic journal article Contemporary Southeast Asia

East Asia: Prospects for the New Decade

Article excerpt

An analysis of contemporary dynamics of change within East Asia, cast in terms of the resources of the classical European tradition of social theorizing, suggests that three intermeshing logics of change are shaping the fundamental structural underpinnings of current events: the long-established drive for industrial-capitalist modernity, the now familiar concern for regional interchanges and the very recent unexpected episode of the Asian financial crisis. Developments within the region will involve, crucially: (a) Japan, where one can expect few novel initiatives; (b) China, where one might expect processes of reform to continue; (c) the NIEs, where there is likely to be deepening interest in the region; and (d) the ASEAN states, where there would probably be a greater concern for developments within the wider East Asian region. Overall, the regional states are likely to continue to develop in line with specific historically established logics of change.

Introduction

It can be argued that there are diverse ways in which the social world might be constituted, and if we grant this point then there are two immediate consequences. First, the global system which we inhabit is given to us in terms of the conceptual machineries which we deploy (we have no direct, unequivocal access to "reality"), and this being the case, we can assert that a necessary condition of scholarship is reflexive embedding in the processes which theorizing would grasp. Put another way, we have to make clear where we stand and for whom we argue (and in the author's case, the approach adopted derives from the classical European tradition of social theory). Secondly, it is appropriate to acknowledge that the global system is home to diverse forms of life. It is in the light of these broad intellectual commitments that this article will consider how theorists working within or with reference to the classical European tradition of social theorizing should read and react to recent changes within the global sy stem, and how they relate to likely patterns of change in East Asia over the next decade.

The classical European tradition of social theorizing can be characterized in terms of its historical occasion, substantive preoccupations, and formal character. The historical occasion can be found in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century concerns of intellectuals to grasp self-consciously the patterns of change enfolding and running through the societies in which they inhabited; in brief, to theorize the process, in historical sociological terms, of the "shift to the modern world". [1] In substantive terms, the central preoccupation is with the analysis of complex change, that is, the ways in which various agent groups have read and reacted to enfolding structural circumstances in the uneven and episodic historical process of the ongoing construction of the modern world of industrial-capitalism (in all its diverse forms). The formal character of the classical European tradition is interpretive, [2] critical [3] and dialogic. [4] And, finally, it can be compared with more familiar contemporary ways i n which the nature and role of the social sciences is understood; thus, the preference for a spread of restricted technical professional disciplinary spheres oriented to the knowledge of the market-place is rejected in favour of routinely inter-disciplinary work oriented to the encouragement of discourse within the public sphere. [5]

The tradition is quite diverse. [6] There are a variety of national traditions in Europe and each has had its own preoccupations and typical relations with the central axes of social power in the state, market, and polity. It would also be true to say that the years following the end of World War II saw a period when the influence of the United States was strong. However, the strength of that particular influence waned with the emergence of political and intellectual confusions within the United States in the decade of the 1960s. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.