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

AuthorHutchinson, Francis E.

The Political Economy of Southeast Asia: Politics and Uneven Development under Hyperglobalisation, 4th ed., edited by Toby Carroll, Shahar Hameiri and Lee Jones. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. Pp. 412.

The 2020 edition of The Political Economy of Southeast Asia is the fourth in the eponymous series produced by the Murdoch School (MS). The school was very influential in the late 1980s and 1990s, notably through the work of Garry Rodan, Richard Robison and Kevin Hewison, founders of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University in Western Australia and noted experts on Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, respectively. The reputation of the editors and the MS more generally was cemented by deeply insightful works on these countries as well as the first three editions of the book, which analysed the manifold effects of the Asian Financial Crisis and its aftermath.

Coming fourteen years after the third edition, and with new editors (Toby Carroll, Shahar Hameiri and Lee Jones), this volume features work from the first generation of scholars, as well as a number of younger academics. In a break from the first three, this edition has no country chapters, but is instead thematic. The first section sets out the aims and contributions of the MS and, using its approach, provides a historical overview of Southeast Asia. The second looks at economic governance issues including regionalism, the decline of the left, and populism. The third looks at subaltern issues such as labour migration, gender, and politics of the poor. The final section looks at environmentally related issues including extractive industries, land and agrarian relations and climate change.

What, then, is the Murdoch School? First, it distinguishes itself from orthodox economics in embracing the analysis of how political factors influence economics and vice versa, as opposed to seeing political factors as unwelcome intrusions or "distortions" of the market. Also called "social conflict theory", the MS is sensitive to how institutions incentivize certain courses of action, but is more interested in how specific institutional configurations are developed, given that they "reflect and entrench existing distributions of power among constellations of social forces--especially class forces--with particular historical junctures" (p. 5).

More than an adhering to a set of shared theories, the MS school is "an approach" (p. 6). The principal focus is on social conflict between actors from...

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