Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Analysing Complex Political Change by Applying the Concept of Regime Change: Identifying the Transformations within the Japanese Political-Bureaucratic-Business Regime

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Analysing Complex Political Change by Applying the Concept of Regime Change: Identifying the Transformations within the Japanese Political-Bureaucratic-Business Regime

Article excerpt

Abstract

The paper highlights the relevance of the concept of regime change for addressing the challenges involved in analysing political developments and complex, incremental, change. The overall focus is on the occurrence and dynamic of complex political change: Why it happens; what are the drivers and how we identify the impact of domestic and international factors in that process. To demonstrate its application the concept of regime change is applied to the case study of Japan. It is argued that the concept of regime change will enable us to bridge the gap between the political science approach, with its emphasis on identifying law-like regulations, and the area studies approach with its focus on the particularities of specific cases.

Keywords: complex political change, regime, state theory, structure and agency, Japanese politics

1. Introduction

When considering the variety of political systems, the trajectory of national developments and the diversity of state-market relations the complexity of political change we can observe in the process of state formation and state development becomes evident, as does the challenges of identifying an approach which could be used to analyse complex and incremental change within this range of cases. The argument presented in this paper is that the concept of regime change will offer such an approach by providing a principal framework of analysis without ignoring the particularities of individual case studies. Recognising the challenges inherit in such an undertaking, the paper will highlight the feasibility of the concept of regime change in analysing complex political change within a wide range of case studies which are quite distinctive in their nature. However, a number of clarifications are required: the specific meaning of a regime; how we interpret change, as well as the task and legitimate terrain of political analysis. The paper will start with outlining the concept of regime change, before applying the theoretical approach to a concrete case study, that is, in analysing complex political change in Japan.

2. Outlining the Concept of Regime-change

Applying the concept of 'regime change' requires a number of specifications. The concept of regime as applied in this paper differs from that commonly used, as it refers neither to a government nor to the state. Instead, a regime refers to the middle level of cohesion in the political economy of a state, to the shape, consistency, and predictability of its political economy (Pempel, 1998, 20). Fishman argues that a regime should be considered as the formal or informal organisation at the centre of political power, determining who has access to political power. The distinctiveness of a 'regime' is illustrated by its characteristic as it is a more permanent form of political organisation than a specific government, but typically less permanent than the state (1990, 428).

In outlining the key elements of a regime, Pempel identifies: socio-economic alliances, political-economic institutions, and a public policy profile. However, he continues to argue that tangible interests, embedded in economics and material welfare are of equal importance (Pempel, 1998, 20-21). It is therefore crucial to appreciate that a regime does not just emerge, indeed, the occurrence and continuation of a 'regime' relates to specific ends: the use of political power for the benefit of the participants involved.

This paper advocates the notion that a regime represents a particular structural entity as it provides the framework, for political, economic and social actors, comparable to the state, which provides the structural environment for a regime. Figure 1 offers a schematic of a regime, and its relations to the state. Identifying a regime as a structural entity with crucial consequences for other actors, raises not only fundamental questions of the state-regime interface but equally of the nature of the state itself. …

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.