Development Politics of the Emerging Market Economies

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

The purpose of this module is to examine the effects of political factors on economic and social transformation (and vice versa) with reference to the emerging market economies (EMEs). EMEs denote those upper income economies on the cusp of transition to high income status. This module focuses on two main issues. First, how did political factors (i.e. types of regime and the conditions of their formation) facilitate the emergence of the first generation of EMEs during the GATT or pre-globalization era (c. 1950-90)? This section concentrates the varying result of attempts to foster the “capitalist developmental state” in the pursuit of economic take-off. Second, the module will examine how upper middle income economies of today are facing up to the challenges of the globalization era, notably mobile capital (financialization and the emergence of global value chains) and the complex of constraints that constitute the “middle income trap”? Given the vastly changed conditions of the contemporary era, can they learn any relevant political and governance lessons from the experience of the first generation EMEs that have already made the transition to high income status? The illustrative cases will be drawn mainly from those cases of former and current upper middle economies that experienced long periods of sustained growth (notably South Korea 1965-90, Brazil 1950-80, Chile 1985-2010, China 1985-2010) that led to their characterization as “miracle economies”. This does not preclude mention of other EMEs. The literature will also introduce students to the principal analytical approaches to the study of political economy such as rational choice theory, new institutional economics, historical institutionalism and Marxism. This module covers development-oriented themes distinct from the Political Economy of Northeast Asia module (which focuses on the socio-economic issues associated with prosperity in the "rich democracies" of East Asia rather than development).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Students will gain insights into how the differing combinations of political and economic factors produce different ‘pathways’ of development and how those pathways have altered in light of globalization of the past three decades.
  • The knowledge gained from this module will provide students with skills for analyzing the interaction between politics and economics in other country and regional environments.
  • Apart from providing students with a critical introduction to the theories and important case studies of political economy, this course will also improve students' general skills of research and presentation of arguments in both verbal and written forms.


1 hour Lecture per week

1 hour Tutorial per week

Scope and syllabus

1. Introduction: concepts, case studies and analytical approaches
2. Late-industrialization and the ‘capitalist developmental state’
3. Case studies of class developmental capitalism: South Korea and Brazil
4. Development controversies (1): corruption and economic governance
5. Development controversies (2): regime type and economic governance
6. Opportunities and constraints under globalization (1): mobile capital and global value chains
7. Opportunities and constraints under globalization (2): “middle income trap”
8. Case study of contemporary rising economies (1): China’s investment-driven path
9. Case study of contemporary rising economies (2): Chile’s “developmental network state”
10. Conclusion: prospects for convergence with advanced capitalism?

Method of assessment

Assessment is 40% coursework (one 2500 word essay) and 60% unseen examination (2 hours).

Suggested reading

  • Meredith Woo-Cumings (ed.), The Developmental State (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999).
  • Richard F. Doner et al. ‘Systemic Vulnerability and the Origins of Developmental States: Northeast and Southeast Asia in Comparative Perspective’ in International Organization 59 (Spring 2005): 327-61.
  • Fred Block, ‘Swimming Against the Current: The Rise of a Hidden Developmental State in the US’ in Politics & Society 36(2) (2008): 169-206.
  • Peter Kingstone, The Political Economy of Latin America: Reflections of Neoliberalism and Development (London: Routledge, 2010).
  • Kyung-Sup Chang et al. (eds), Development Politics in Transition: The Neoliberal Period and Beyond (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012).
  • Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Originsof Power, Prosperity and Poverty (London: Profile Book 2013).
  • Richard F. Doner and Ben Ross Schneider, "The middle income trap: more politics than economics:, World Politics 68(4) (2016): 608-44.
  • Alvin Y. So and Yin-Wah Chu, The Global Rise of China (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016).
  • Jonathan D. Ostry, Prakash Lougani and Andrew Berg, Confronting Inequality: How Societies Can Choose Inclusive Growth (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018).
  • Robert Wade, Escaping the Periphery: the East Asian "Mystery" Solved. WIDER Working Paper 2018/101 (2018).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules