The Structural Power of Business in Korea’s Green Industrial Policy

After a long delay in production, the final article for the Issue 5 Feature Section on state-business relations in Asia is out.

State–Business Relations in Flux: Capturing the Structural Power of Business in South Korea’s Green Industrial Policy” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2021.1915362) is by Nahee Kang and Kahee Jo, both of the Department of International Development, School of Global Affairs, King’s College London, United Kingdom.

The abstract for the paper states:

Getting state–business relations “right” is considered to have been at the heart of the East Asian developmental states and their industrial success in the twentieth century. Given that the “right” state–business relations are an historically contingent outcome that emerges under a particular political and economic order, this article asks what is the emerging nature of their state–business relations in the twenty-first century? And, how is this relationship shaping their industrial competitiveness? These questions are explored by reconceptualising both the state and business to interrogate the nexus between the “competition state” and the “structural power” of business. Through a fine-grained investigation of green industrial policy-making in South Korea, it is shown how a state that is evolving into a competition state is made vulnerable to the structural power of business, challenging the widely held view that the right state–business relations are being maintained. The contribution made lies in identifying and tracing structural power, which remains under-examined in the state–business relations scholarship due to the difficulties associated with capturing quiet politics at work. This contribution invites further discussion on how state–business relations can be recalibrated to advance industrialisation in East Asia and beyond.

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Regime Change, State-Business Relations and the Middle-Income Trap in Malaysia

Regime Changes, State-Business Ties and Remaining in the Middle-Income Trap: The Case of Malaysia” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2021.1933138) is a new article by Edmund Terence Gomez of the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Kee Cheok Cheong of the Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Chan-Yuan Wong of the Institute of Technology Management, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.

It is another article for the Feature Section on state-business relations in Asia.

The abstract for the paper states:

While Malaysia’s economy is widely acknowledged as having the capacity to escape the middle-income trap and achieve highly-industrialised status, this potential has not been realised. One theoretical proposition why an economy remains mired in the middle-income trap is that the introduction of mechanisms to overcome this problem is hampered by political, not economic, matters. Malaysia serves as an interesting case to test this proposition because, after the 14th General Election (GE14) in 2018, it had a new government – the first time such a change had occurred in its history – that had pledged to institute the requisite economic restructurings and reform state–business relations in a highly mixed economy. This article traces the sources of Malaysia’s middle-income trap leading up to GE14, reviews the reform debates that occurred following this election, and assesses why the promised reforms were not considered before this new government unexpectedly fell in 2020.

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Solidarity and Mobility in Beijing’s Koreatown

Cost of BelongingIn a new book review for JCA, Erik Mobrand looks at The Cost of Belonging. An Ethnography on Solidarity and Mobility in Beijing’s Koreatown by Sharon J. Yoon.

This book is an ethnographic study the Beijing suburb of Wangjing, where “South Korean expatriates have rubbed shoulders with China-born Koreans or Korean Chinese…”. Author Yoon “tells the stories” of the people she met when living and working in the district. Mobrand says that the “book offers an intriguing window onto a corner of the world where individuals are riven by angst over collective identities.”

Mobrand points out that:

Korean Chinese often struggle to get along with South Korean colleagues, employers and associates. They are divided by class and the shifting boundaries of Korean identity. At moments, they find solidarity in their Korean-ness but at many points national identity divides Korean Chinese from South Koreans.

Mobrand finds this a book that “the non-specialist will find fresh and interesting” as it details the personal stories and the relationships between Korean Chinese and South Koreans. He concludes that “ethnographic work such as this book makes the complex interplay of identity and class understandable to readers new to the context.” At the same time, he feels that specialists will find the “engagement with existing work is limited and indirect.”

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Issue 4 for 2021 published

JCA coverIssue number 4 of Volume 51 of the journal has gone to print and is available electronically at the publisher’s site.

This issue features six articles and five book reviews. The articles are:

Challenging Hegemony: Nurhadi-Aldo and the 2019 Election in Indonesia by Timo Duile

Globalisation, Inequality and Institutions in West Sumatra and West Java, 1800–1940 by Pim de Zwart

Revolution and Recognition in Post-War Asia: Restoring Missing Links in the Establishment of Indonesia–People’s Republic of China Relations, 1949–1950 by Vincent K. L. Chang

Japanese Agriculture and Capital Expansion: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Global Food Value Chain Strategy by Akiko Horita

To Whom Does the City Belong? Obstacles to Right to the City for the Urban Poor in Bangladesh by Lutfun Nahar Lata

After Personalism: Rethinking Power Transfers in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan by Luca Anceschi

The book reviews are:

Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Thailand reviewed by Andrew Brown

Gender Politics and the Pursuit of Competitiveness in Malaysia. Women on Board reviewed by Juliette Schwak

The United States, Southeast Asia, and Historical Memory reviewed by Kevin Hewison

Agents of Disorder: Inside China’s Cultural Revolution reviewed by Clemens Büttner

Maoism and Grassroots Religion: The Communist Revolution and the Reinvention of Religious Life in China reviewed by Zhixi Wang

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Populism, Technocracy and the Politics of Expertise in India

Anuradha Sajjanhar of the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra has a new article available. “The New Experts: Populism, Technocracy and Politics of Expertise in Contemporary India” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2021.1934889) is an important examination of the role and politics of foundations and think tanks.

anuradha sajjanhar

The abstract for the paper states:

Over the last five years, the Indian right-wing has been discrediting left-liberal experts and encouraging pseudo-scientific religious knowledge systems. Yet, crucially, it has also cultivated its own institutional networks of those it considers to be intellectuals and experts: an ostensibly anti-colonial alternative authority to challenge the “hegemony of the progressives” and the “erstwhile custodians of discourse.” This article examines the evolution of a shifting network of experts and elites, interrogating what is considered to be expertise in the context of governance. Through a study of Indian think tanks, this article shows how two forms of political legitimacy govern contemporary India: (i) populist politics, which appeals to the masses/majority by defining nationalism through rigid boundaries of caste, class and religion; and (ii) technocratic policy,which produces a consensus of pragmatism and neutralises charges of hyper-nationalism. Using data from participant observation and over 50 interviews in New Delhi, before and after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election victory in 2019, this article emphasises the relational dynamic between the two: they function through different, often contradictory, logics and content yet are able to work towards the same goals in key moments of mutual reinforcement.

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2020 Impact Factors (updated)

It is the time of the year when some of the journal impact factor (IF) rankings are released.

The Web of Science has released its impact factors for 2020 and the Journal of Contemporary Asia has an IF of 3.261, up substantially on 2019 when it was 1.957. In 2018 the IF was 2.030. This latest IF is the highest the journal has ever reached.

ImpactFor 2019, the report ranks JCA 3rd in the Area Studies category among 77 ranked journals.

At about the same time, Google Scholar released its rankings. In its list of the top 20 Asian Studies and History journals, JCA ranks 3rd among 80 listed journals.

In the 2020 Scimago Journal Rankings, using Scopus, JCA is listed in Cultural Studies and Social Sciences (miscellaneous) and is ranked in Q1 for both. In Cultural Studies JCA is ranked 17th among 1103 journals and in Social Sciences (Misc.) it is ranked 66th among 594 journals.

Clarivate has also introduced a new metric, the Journal Citation Indicator (JCI). All journals indexed in the different Clarivate indexes are receiving a JCI. This metric also looks at citations, but over a wider period than the IF, and normalising for the characteristics of the journal’s subject field(s). The 2020 JCI for Journal of Contemporary Asia is 4.06, ranking 2/160 in the Area Studies category.

There are divergent views on rankings. Whatever one’s views, there is little doubt that IFs and the rankings do have consequences for journals, including in matters like submissions. Several jurisdictions also direct scholars to consider IFs when they publish and some reward them for publishing in high-ranked journals.

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Evolving State–Business Relations in Asia

Evolving State–Business Relations in an Age of Globalisation: An Introduction” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2021.1934720) is the first, introductory essay for a feature section on state-business relations. It is by the editors of the feature section, Guanie Lim of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, Japan, Edmund Terence Gomez of the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, Malaysia and Chan-Yuan Wong of the Institute of Technology Management, National Tsing Hua University, in Taiwan.

In fact, this paper comes out before two other papers for the feature section which have been subject to inordinate delays in the publisher’s productions system. JCA hopes to have these papers available soon.

The abstract for this Introduction states:

This article introduces the feature section “Evolving State–Business Relations in an Age of Globalisation” in this issue of the journal. That feature section examines state–business relations across the Asian region, from South Korea to Turkey. It focuses on networked forms of co-ordination between state and non-state (or private) actors who collectively shape how an economy evolves. This article and those of the feature section deal with three inter-related questions. First, what is the contemporary nature of state–business relations, taking stock of historical and political contexts? Second, when there is regime change, how have these state–business relations evolved? Third, how, and to what extent, do the ties linking state and business actors generate opportunities and constraints for these economies? Four case studies are presented to illuminate shifting state–business relations in key Asian economies – Thailand, Turkey, South Korea and Malaysia. These studies reveal diverse modes of state–business relations, as well as why and how they have emerged, shaping in the process political and economic norms, while leading to industrialisation.

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Post-Work Life in Hong Kong

Multiple Careers: Towards a Post-Work Way of Life” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2021.1937674) is a new article by Lake Lui of the Department of Sociology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.

The abstract for the paper states:Lake

This article examines the capacity of college-educated young people who pursue in several careers – “slash workers” – to act independently and to make their own choices about their work and life in capitalist Hong Kong. Numerous studies have assumed an unproblematic link between precarious employment and the exploitation of young people’s labour. This article offers an alternative understanding of this link from the autonomist Marxist perspective of “refusal of work” and the “getting a life” project. While the literature on freelancing has illuminated workers’ potential to maintain a work/life balance, the novel phenomenon of slash work in Hong Kong adds to our understanding of freedom from labour. By having more than one career, slash workers: (i) blur the boundaries of paid work, volunteer work, and personal interests; (ii) anchor work around self, instead of self around work; and (iii) embrace breadth, instead of vertical mobility in their career trajectory. This post-work approach to work and life allows workers to be rule-setters, which inadvertently results in creativity in work.

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Bhutan and Gross National Happiness

The Two Faces of Gross National Happiness: Can Bhutan’s Nation-Building Strategy Also Be a Sustainable Alternative Development Paradigm?” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2021.1933139) is a new article by Helena See, an independent scholar based in London.

This is the first article that JCA has published on Bhutan.

The article’s abstract states:

This article considers two interlinked questions regarding the wider significance of the gross national happiness (GNH) development framework established in Bhutan. First, to what extent can GNH be considered a genuinely alternative development paradigm, distinct from the traditional pursuit of economic growth? And second, what are its prospects for survival in a globalising world? It argues that, while the government of Bhutan has succeeded in crafting a distinctive economic middle path, GNH’s integrity as a development paradigm has been undermined by its dual function as the centrepiece of Bhutan’s nation-building strategy. Based on close analysis of the actual trade-offs made by the government in operationalising the GNH framework, the article argues that, when these two competing visions of GNH have come into conflict, it is the nation-building version that has so far prevailed. In its treatment of these questions, the article also seeks to bridge a deep fracture in the existing literature on Bhutan by integrating less prominent work on the history of discrimination faced by the country’s minority ethnic Nepali population, with the more dominant and complimentary discourse on Bhutan’s experiment with GNH – which until now has largely ignored these darker aspects of Bhutanese policy-making.

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Award for Teresa S. Encarnacion Tadem

We are pleased to advise that JCA author Teresa S. Encarnacion Tadem has received the Philippines National Academy of Science and Technology Outstanding Book Award for her book shown below. Congratulations!

Her most recent contribution to JCA was “The Emergence of Filipino Technocrats as Cold War ‘Pawns’.” This article appeared in 2020’s special issue on Legacies of the Cold War in East and Southeast Asia.

NAST Award

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