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Towards a Cultural Political Economy

Towards a Cultural Political Economy

Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy

Ngai-Ling Sum and Bob Jessop

This fascinating volume offers a critique of recent institutional and cultural turns in heterodox economics and political economy. Using seven case studies as examples, the authors explore how research on sense- and meaning-making can deepen critical studies in political economy, illuminating its role in critiquing the specific categories, contradictions and crisis-tendencies of capitalism.

Chapter 10: Competitiveness knowledge brands and service governance: the making of Hong Kong’s competitiveness–integration (dis)order

Ngai-Ling Sum and Bob Jessop

Subjects: economics and finance, cultural economics, institutional economics, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


As discussed in Chapter 8, discourses of ‘competitiveness’ have gone through three stages, from theoretical paradigm, through policy paradigm to knowledge brand. The last is speedily brought to policy markets by academics/ consultants, prominent businessmen, ideas entrepreneurs, think tanks, strategy firms and international organizations. Given the multi-layered, multi-scalar, multi-site nature of these processes (Chapter 8), this chapter explores one particular site – Hong Kong’s road to the (re)making of competitiveness and the politics of economic restructuring and integration. The purpose is to illustrate the recontextualization of Porter’s knowledge brand to Hong Kong via strategy firm and sponsors, and to disclose the complexities and struggles that have been involved in the (re)making of service governance in the city between 1979 and 2013. We identify two overlapping periods with their own specific strategic–discursive moments. This chapter has three sections. First, it examines period one (1979–2004), starting when China opened its doors and saw the creation of a ‘special economic zone’ in the Pearl River Delta in southern China. Some strategic local–industrial actors sought new ways to connect with the zone.

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