Interregional Linkages in a Changing Global System
Edited by Peter W. Preston and Julie Gilson
Chapter 7: A material-discursive approach to the ‘Asian Crisis’: the breaking and remaking of the production and financial orders
CHAPTER 7 12/9/01 9:03 am Page 3 7. A material-discursive approach to the ‘Asian Crisis’: the breaking and remaking of the production and financial orders Sum, Ngai-Ling INTRODUCTION The so-called ‘Asia Crisis’ has been constructed and explained from many viewpoints: two of the most popular are the specific defects of national ‘crony capitalisms’ and weaknesses in the global financial architecture (see section 2). This chapter offers a critique of these accounts and suggests an alternative, ‘material-discursive’ approach to the crisis that pays careful attention to its structural, strategic and discursive dimensions. This approach examines: (a) the structural background to the crisis in terms of the material interconnections between the productive and financial orders in the context of global capitalism; (b) the conjunctural factors precipitating the crisis and its implications for the current economic disorder; (c) the role of various actors in developing competing discourses to restructure the global-regional-national political economy and to remake their associated identities and interests; and (d) the subsequent interplay between these various material and discursive aspects in shaping the crisis as it has developed since 1997. In developing the first element of this approach to the crisis, my chapter examines the development of the East Asian region since the Plaza Accord was signed in 1985. Structurally, this ‘post-Plaza’ period was characterized by, inter alia, a Japan-led regional-national production order financed by export-oriented FDI (foreign direct investment) and an American-dominated dollar-bloc regime linked - at least as it operated during the 1985-95 period - to a...
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