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The Postdevelopmental State: Dilemmas of Economic Democratization in Contemporary South Korea

by Jamie Doucette

University of Michigan Press, 2024


Cloth: 978-0-472-07708-3

Paper: 978-0-472-05708-5

eISBN: 978-0-472-90468-6

About the Book
Over the last 25 years, South Korea has witnessed growing inequality due to the proliferation of non-standard employment, ballooning household debt, deepening export-dependency, and the growth of super-conglomerates such as Samsung and Hyundai. Combined with declining rates of economic growth and turbulent political events, these processes mark a departure from Korea’s past recognition as a high growth “developmental state.”

The Postdevelopmental State radically reframes research into the South Korean economy by foregrounding the efforts of pro-democratic reformers and social movements in South Korea to create an alternative economic model—one that can address Korea’s legacy of authoritarian economic development during the Cold War and neoliberal restructuring since the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s. Understanding these attempts offers insight into the types of economic reforms that have been enacted since the late 1990s as well as the continued legacy of dictatorship-era politics within the Korean political and legal system. By examining the dilemmas economic democracy has encountered over the past 25 years, from the IMF Crisis to the aftermath of the Candlelight Revolution, the book reveals the enormous and comprehensive challenges involved in addressing the legacy of authoritarian economic models and their neoliberal transformations.
About the Author
Jamie Doucette is Reader in Human Geography at the University of Manchester.
The Postdevelopmental State provides powerful new insights into the contradictory processes of economic democratization in South Korea in recent decades. Jamie Doucette does so by calling into question widespread notions of the developmental state. He provides an alternative approach that translates Gramsci’s concept of the integral state and demonstrates the considerable political stakes of this alternative approach. This book will be of great interest to scholars and activists in other regions of the world.”— Gillian Hart, University of California Berkeley & University of the Witwatersrand

“This is one of the very best books on contemporary South Korean politics and economics that I have read. It is a tremendous contribution to the fields of Korean studies, geography, and economic history. The study is executed with precision; it is thoroughly and ethically researched; and it is theoretically ambitious.”— Joseph Jonghyun Jeon, University of California, Irvine

“Several of the biggest topics gain coverage here and the book contains more insight from local debates than one finds in most other treatments. The reader, especially the nonspecialist reader, will gain both a sense for what are the key points of public contestation in Korea and the arguments made by participants.”— Erik Mobrand, Seoul National University

“This outstanding book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to gain a better understanding of contemporary South Korean society, particularly the challenges faced by liberal and progressive reformers who have sought to overcome the legacies of neoliberalism and the developmental state during a time of expanding inequality. Exploring such challenges at the nexus of political institutions and civil society, Doucette provides compelling insight into the aspirations as well as the limitations that have shaped attempts to realize both social democracy and economic democracy. While this book focuses on South Korea in the wake of the massive anti-authoritarian protests that helped bring about a peaceful transfer of power in 2017—known as the Candlelight Revolution—Doucette also offers a timely perspective for wider regional and global analyses of political-economic transformation.”— Nan Kim, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Perspectives On Contemporary Korea, Dilemmas, 2002-, Employee participation, Economic Democratization, Contemporary South Korea, Economic policy, Management, Labor, History & Theory, Economic conditions, 21st century, Asia, Political Science, History
Open Access Information

Label: Academy of Korean Studies

License: CC BY-NC