A cultural political economy of South Korea's development model in variegated capitalism

Park, Jihoon and Jessop, Bob and Sum, Ngai-Ling (2018) A cultural political economy of South Korea's development model in variegated capitalism. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis investigates the Park Chung Hee model (PCHM). This term refers to a South Korean variant of the East Asian model of capitalism—particularly, the historical model that guided the rapid and sustained growth of the economy since the mid-1960s. This historical investigation is theoretically informed by a cultural political economy of variegated capitalism (VarCap-CPE) that enables a differential and integral exploration of both historical and contemporary capitalism. In this context, my contribution is twofold. The first is theoretical. While a theoretically informed historical investigation into East Asian capitalism requires an approach to (post-)colonialism, imperialism and hegemony as a prerequisite, VarCap-CPE has still not fully integrated such an approach into its analytical framework. So, my first aim is to improve this paradigm by drawing on Marx’s insights into colonialism, the world market, and international hegemony and propose how they might be put in their place, provisionally, in a VarCap-CPE analysis. My second goal is empirical. Based on the enhanced version of the VarCap-CPE, I aim to give a better account of the PCHM than previous literature in political economy. Specifically, I show how the model was informed by two contradictory state strategies: (1) the fascist and autarkic state strategies of Imperial Japan; and (2) the liberal and free trade-oriented developmentalism, based on W.W. Rostow’s modernization theory. I thereby demonstrate that the PCHM was self-contradictory and, in this context, present it as a “chimerical” model that combines in a contradictory manner the DNA of two rival species. On this basis, I provide an integral account of its seemingly miraculous performance as well as the dilemmas, contradictions and crisis-proneness that beset it. In addition, unlike much of the extant literature on the Park model, my analysis permits theoretically consistent further research into its crisis and subsequent neoliberalisation.

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Thesis (PhD)
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02 Sep 2019 11:15
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:48