Lecture 1 Recap on Developmental State (16 Nov)

I am writing this as a quick recap of my first lecture at ISS, within the core course on development. We discussed state and Weberian bureacruacy as well as the issue of the embedded state and developmental state. It was a great discussion that took the thread from the mid-19th century Germany to the current day illiberal democracies discussed by Zakariya and others. We read Evans, Leftwich and Williams.

I have been challenged on a number of occasions by students, which is a good sign — they are thinking and not taking my authority for granted. One was early on in the discussion of what was missing in the readings. Geography! It took a while before we arrived there, but we did. Another was the claim that universalism and formalism was present in the readings until Williams put this apart in her most recent piece from 2014. But that came too early in the lecture, so I had to stall this off for later.

An important take-away from the lecture and the reading by Evans was that historically contingent trajectories explain more than rational formulas to pursue developmental state. Of course this is not what neo-classical or neo-utilitarian economists would admit. It is a very interesting point in explaining why Korea, Japan, Taiwan and other states have been so successful and why others have been struggling in vain to promote development. Could be eternal circumstances not much to do with bureacruacy, or not just bureacruacy.

A good choice was the reading for the class on the critique of the developmental state by Williams. Four factors make sure that a developmental state is not enough for the 21st century, even though it was Okay for the 20th century. These are the four trends as follows:

1) Human welfare is more than economic growth
2) Ideology, democracy and human rights now and not just economic growth
3) There is an environmental crisis that followed industrialisation
4) The shift from old manufacturing to knowledge economy

A good first session to Part B on the state. Now Lecture 2 on Varieties of States on Monday!


Assistant Professor at International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, The Netherlands

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