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The Political Economy of Asia

This call for papers seeks to establish an echo chamber in a generalist journal for old and new studies of the political economy of Asia. Although one can argue that heterodoxy has triumphed in Asia, it is also unquestionably the region of the world in which the concept of developmental state has the most meaning (Chalmers Johnson, Japan: Who Governs? – The Rise of the Developmental State, 1995). At the height of the Washington Consensus, the World Bank recognized--albeit through gritted teeth--the beneficial role played by various regional governments in the Asian Miracle (1993).

For twenty years, China’s market-based socialism has given it increasing prominence in the region’s economy, changing the game-plan by raising the stakes considerably. China’s ascendancy in turn raises the question of whether the state-versus-market debate in Asia has not ended, leaving the field open to other questions that are both more circumscribed and more relevant. In research terms, the extraordinary power of Chinese development should not overshadow the variety of economic systems and institutional forms that make up the region, a vast zone that encompasses South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.

Several research strands seem to us to energize this theme:

1. The Role of Governments
Pioneering studies by Evans, Rueschemeyer and Skocpol (Bringing the State Back In, 1985), Jomo (A Question of Class, Class, Capital, the State, and Uneven development in Malaya, 1988), Wade (Governing the Market, 1990), Amsden (Asia’s next Giant, South Korea and Late Industrialization, 1992) and more recently Ha-Joon Chang (Institutional Change and economic Development, 2007) are not widely known in France, or are at least too seldom cited outside of publications specifically focused on Asian development. Furthermore, these authors have participated in the rise of non-Northian institutionalism in contemporary American, British, and Asian political economics. Their studies articulate sociological, economic, political, and historical research in a different way than does the more youthful research of French scholars in the field, despite certain similarities. In any event, a comparative synthesis such as these authors have performed has not yet been published by French-language researchers.
Case studies of the “developmental state” in Asia could also contribute, especially longitudinal studies of political economies, particularly of the role of central planning in Asia – for example in India, Malaysia, etc.
The 1997 crisis and the different responses of governments to the IMF’s recommendations and conditions could be compared to recent public reactions to the effects of the subprime crisis. The consequent disengagement or engagement of governments in economic activity also raises numerous questions that deserve attention.
Finally, the study of the different national bureaucracies and the on-going transformation of the instruments of power due to the globalization of norms of public management (whose actual vectors have yet to be established), but also of the spread of norms originating in the Chinese model, constitute a field that is ripe for exploration.

2. Entrepreneurship and Political Power
How Asian capitalisms are portrayed is a recurrent, pluridisciplinary theme is a perspective that has been stimulating to the regulationist movement. Asia is a region in which, in order to illustrate the close combination of institutional, political, and sociological factors, singular forms of capitalism were identified very early on. These include Crony Capitalism, which reveals the collusion between political classes and business people, and State capitalism.
The role of political patronage in economies is an additional wide-open research field (for example in Malaysia since the 1990s: Malaysia’s political economy: politics, patronage and profits, T. Gomez et Jomo, 1999). Studies could also fruitfully pursue lines of inquiry derived from B. Hibou’s powerful recent theoretical advances in Anatomie de la domination (2011) as well as from the contributions of the entrepreneurial class as described by Guiheux in Les grands entrepreneurs privés à TaiwanLa main visible de la prospérité (2002).

3. The National Consequences of Regional Integration
The rapidity of the integration of emerging Asian economies into globalization, their diversity in terms of standard of living, size, and specialization, and their close inter-relationships raise new research questions. The evolution of the japanese relative position is also to be questioned. Such questions could be expressed in terms of regional integration, as has been done by Yang (Sub-regional Economic Integrations, 2011), J. Ravenhill (The New East Asian Regionalism, a political domino effect, 2010). Contributions to knowledge of these topics is interesting to the extent that it emphasizes links to local development across countries, which is important because local development is a dimension of the diversity of singular economic systems.

4. The Effects of Chinese Power
As Boyer (How Does China's Growth and Innovation Strategy Affect the World Economy? 2010) and Yang (China’s Move to Preferential Trading, 2009) have shown, China’s dominance unquestionably deserves separate treatment in terms of regional and global integration. The local effects of the new Chinese power are numerous and occasionally highly sensitive in nature. Whether its influence is expressed through trade, investment, multinational corporations, economic cooperation, or through the spread of new economic and political norms, China is currently among the strongest vectors of economic and social change in the region.

5. The Rapid Changes in Asian Societies
Finally, our knowledge about the political economy of contemporary Asia could be enhanced by investigations of other changes in Asian societies. Such subjects might include improvements in living standards, the dynamics of social inequalities, migration, ecology, urbanization, as well as on-going transformations of agrarian societies (a non-exhaustive list intended as suggestions).

Articles submitted should be no longer than 10000 words (inclusive of notes, references and any annexes including tables and figures). Articles must be sent to Please address your article before May 2012 the 25th.

Directors: Pierre Alary and Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux