Embedding Economics. The Constitution of Reform and Development in Malaysia and the Philippines (1981-1997)
[S.l.] : [S.n.]
Number of pages
XII, 395 p.
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 31 mei 2006
Promotores : Jong, E. de, Garretsen, J.H. Co-promotores : Peil, J.J.M., Naerssen, A.L. van, Sent, E.-M.
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SubjectNijmegen Centre for Economics
This dissertation addresses the idea that the economy should be viewed in its social, cultural, and historical context. Three examples of this idea are discussed: Douglass North's New Institutional Economics, the idea of Asian Culture underlying Malaysian development, and the idea of structural, moral roots of the Philippines' development experience. The dissertation argues that to view the economy in its social-cultural or historical context in a consistent way requires placing the construction of this context as relevant for the economy in its social, cultural, and historical context as well, instead of viewing it as given fact. In other words, reflexivity is required. The central question, therefore, is where the idea of economic development as embedded in culture and history comes from, and why it is constructed. More specifically, the dissertation places the emergence of the idea of cultural context as relevant for economic development in Southeast Asia in its social-political context. It argues that the construction of development as embedded in Malaysian culture can be understood from a power perspective. Essentialisation of development policies and governance structures created perceived institutional continuity. It has thereby been supportive of reform and rapid development, but also of increasingly authoritarian tendencies in Mahathir's Malaysia. Similarly, the idea of structural, moral problems underlying the Philippines' supposedly dismal development experience is related to the political and historical context in which this idea has been produced. The essentialisation of problems results in a revolutionary discourse and a tendency towards extra-institutional action. It has thereby supported the position of technocrats, while hampering reform and development. This focus on power relations and history, in turn, is viewed in its historical-political context as well, questioning the framework. The conclusion is that the current theoretical and policy trend of addressing economy in its context is not helpful unless it is reflexive.
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