This chapter provides a theoretical framework for an analysis of the economic development of Southeast Asia. As mentioned in the introduction, the genesis of this study emerged from a concern with inequalities of power and wealth within the international political economy (IPE) and with the complex interaction between domestic social forces, domestic capital, the state apparatus and the international economic environment. Clearly, the interdisciplinary nature of this subject necessitates a literature review of materials in international relations (IR) and IPE, political theory, historical sociology, and development theory among others. This is a mammoth task and one that requires a logical framework to be feasible. Consequently, this chapter firstly examines the evolution of international political economy tracing the development of a critical IPE that opened up a discursive space within which interdisciplinary work could take place (the initial part of this section is largely taken from Higgott, 1994). In particular critical IPE has 'rediscovered' historical materialism and with it a concern for socio-economic factors grounded in a historical context. Having opened up the discursive space for interdisciplinary work, the chapter then moves on to discuss development theory, both generally, drawing on the work of Modernisation Theorists and Marxist/Neomarxist approaches, and specifically in the context of East and Southeast Asia.
For many years IPE was generally considered to be a sub-discipline of IR that concerned itself with the study of 'low politics' (economic and social welfare issues), as opposed to the principal agenda of 'high politics' (i.e. the study of peace, diplomacy, traditional security, alliance formation). However, during the 1980s and 1990s, IPE became both a major growth area in the study of IR, and it developed an increasingly normative, and critical 'wing' (Abbott and Worth, 2002), a broader field of enquiry that has facilitated a large amount of interdisciplinary work from disciplines