Demand-responsive industrialization in East Asia: A new critique of political economy

Gary G. Hamilton, Solee I. Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the mid-nineteenth century, Karl Marx issued several critiques of political economy writings stressing the exclusive duality of states and the national economies. He argued that capitalism had characteristic features quite apart from those shaped by the idiosyncrasies of national economies. In the first part of this article, we critique the contemporary state-centered explanations for the industrialization of East Asia on same grounds. We claim that most political economists misinterpret or entirely ignore the significance of export-led industrialization, which is a characteristic feature of East Asian capitalism. In the second part of the article, we demonstrate the importance of the retail revolution in the US and Europe on Asian industrialization. In particular, we show that the development of the sequential ordering system that is an inherent feature of Western-based contract manufacturing differentially shaped the industrial organization of East Asian economies. The resulting path-dependent trajectories of development, in turn, encouraged government policy-makers to ‘buy into’ trends of global capitalism in different ways. The trajectories also led business people to privilege and adapt some social institutions and cultural patterns over other ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-412
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • developmental state theory
  • East Asian industrialization
  • export-led development
  • Marx
  • the retail revolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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