The Political Economy of Southeast Asia: Politics and Uneven Development under Hyperglobalisation.

AuthorPitakdumrongkit, Kaewkamol

The Political Economy of Southeast Asia: Politics and Uneven Development under Hyperglobalisation. Edited by Toby Carroll, Shahar Hameiri and Lee Jones. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. Softcover: 412pp.

As part of the Palgrave Macmillan's series "Studies in the Political Economy of Public Policy", this edited volume analyses the political economy of Southeast Asia through the lens of the Murdoch School of International Relations (IR). This school of IR thought emphasizes how class-based coalitions and social conflicts shape politics and the economy.

The book comprises fifteen chapters. Chapter One, by Shahar Hameiri and Lee Jones, begins by investigating how the region's development has given rise to various "class forces"--the "powerful politico-bureaucratic networks", the "dominant conglomerates" headed by "small ruling cliques of families and 'crony capitalists'", the "illiberal, consumerist 'new rich' and middle classes disinterested in democracy" and the "ravaged and disorganized working class and peasantry" (p. vii). The Murdoch School suggests that political and economic outcomes in the region are determined by the power relations and contests between these "class forces". To advance this proposition, the authors expose the shortcomings of rival Weberian and historical institutionalist, while arguing that neoliberalism is better understood as an ideology rather than a proper theoretical framework (p. 7). Chapter Two, by Toby Carroll, provides a well-crafted overview of the region's political and economic trajectories by positioning Southeast Asia in a broader global context. This allows readers to understand how the region's political economy is path-dependent and shaped by various external elements such as the legacy of colonial rule, the relocation of Japanese production plants to the region in the 1970s and China's recent ascendancy.

This is followed by thirteen thematic chapters that utilize the Murdoch School to examine specific issues. For example, in Chapter Three, Garry Rodan and Jacqui Baker contend that "crony capitalism" persists in the region and continues to influence policy-making in the ten regional states. Although elite-business connections have been undermined or disrupted since the 1990s by several factors--such as post-1998 democratization and decentralization in Indonesia and rising inequality in Singapore--these crony capitalists have successfully reconfigured themselves to maintain and even expand...

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