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Capitalist development, regime transitions and new forms of authoritarianism in Asia

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  • Economics
  • Political Science


The possibility of viable alternatives to the historical combination of liberal democracy and capitalist development is now widely acknowledged in the analysis of late industrializing countries. For example, within the transitions literature notions of hybrid regimes and closer scrutiny of institutional functioning are being employed to capture complex variations in authoritarianism. Less acknowledged is the significance of capitalist dynamics and related geopolitics for the character and performance of political institutions. We argue that late industrialization in Asia has especially militated against middle-class/labor alliances and produced a general fragmentation of social forces restricting the scope for democratic coalitions. But as well as helping to explain the consolidation and refashioning of existing authoritarian regimes, analysis of these social foundations of political institutions also helps account for strands of authoritarianism within so-called post-authoritarian polities. The Pacific Review has long fostered debate about the durability or otherwise of authoritarian regimes and alternative models to Western capitalism in Asia

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