SOAS University of London

Centre of Korean Studies

Neo-Liberalism and the Strengthening of the Korean State

David Hundt
David Hundt (Deakin)

Date: 8 February 2013Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 8 February 2013Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G50

Type of Event: Seminar


This article tests the assumption that neo-liberalism inevitably detracts from state strength by analysing the power of the Korean state since the Asian economic crisis. Despite expectations to the contrary, the state has retained its influential position as economic manager, thanks to a combination of two types of power: the repressive powers of the developmental state, and crucially, powers stemming from neo-liberalism itself. The Korean state used both these resources, which amount to the full spectrum of what Michael Mann refers to as infrastructural power, in its social and political struggle with civil society over economic policy. Rather than being a disempowering force, neo-liberal reform enhanced the political position of the Korean state, which presented itself as an agent capable of resolving long-standing economic problems, defending law and order, and attracting the support of democratic forces. Our findings suggest that neo-liberalism offers some states the opportunity to remain weighty economic actors, and developmental states may be particularly adept at co-opting elements of civil society into governing alliances.

Speaker Biography

 David Hundt is a senior lecturer in international relations at Deakin University. His research interests are the politics, security and political economy of the Asia–Pacific. His articles have appeared in Australian Journal of International Affairs, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Japanese Journal of Political Science, Journal of Development Studies, Political Science and Asian Perspective. His book, Korea's Developmental Alliance: State, Capital and the Politics of Rapid Development, was published with Routledge in 2009.

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