Luigi Tomba ed., East Asian Capitalism. Conflicts, Growth and Crisis

This book brings together some of the contributions made to
a conference held in Cortona, Italy, in 2001. The writers come from a variety
of academic backgrounds; they are economists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists
and political scientists. Some articles focus on a single country—be it Indonesia
or Japan—while others are transnational and comparative. All share the same
perspective, clearly laid down by the preface. In it, Luigi Tomba draws up the
balance sheet of the theoretical debates raised by economic growth in East Asia
over the past thirty years. This publication aims to place the trajectory of development
within a new perspective, both historical and political. Growth, Tomba writes,
is not the fruit of rational decisions taken by the political authorities, far
from it. His perspective, and any evaluation of the future possibilities for development,
requires that growth be understood within the context of political conflict and
the struggle for power between groups with divergent interests. The contributors
then take up the task, each on his own behalf, starting from this firm sociological
foundation, which consists in seeing institutions within processes of conflict,
of confrontations and negotiations, out of which the politics of growth have been
engendered.

The various contributions have been arranged in three sections.
The first describes the changing frontiers of political action, under the pressure
of economic changes, reforms and globalisation. The second is focused on the negotiation
processes, which lead onwards to the definition of the politics of development.
The final section deals with conflicts—class conflicts and other kinds of
conflict too—which divide societies and contribute to defining them.

On China, we find familiar analyses. Tony Saich goes back
over the transformation of the state and over the development of relations between
central state and local state. Tak-wing Ngo compares the nature of political power
in the People’s Republic, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Jean-François Huchet
looks at the evolution of enterprise management in the context of the political
system. Dorothy Solinger looks back over the changing relations between the Communist
Party and the workers. Hein Mallee analyses the crisis of the hukou system.

The relevance of the intellectual project and the quality
of the editorial work make this publication a useful work of reference for anyone
seeking to put into perspective the development of East Asia as a whole. Unlike
any discourse centred on a supposed “Asian model”, each contribution
emphasises the differences between countries and the originality of their local
contexts.

Translated from the French original by Philip Liddell

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