Before and Beyond the Global Economic Crisis
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Before and Beyond the Global Economic Crisis

Economics, Politics and Settlement

Edited by Mats Benner

This timely and far-reaching book addresses the long-term impact of the recent global economic crisis. New light is shed on the crisis and its historical roots, and resolutions for a more robust, resilient future socio-economic model are prescribed.
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Chapter 9: A cultural political economy of crisis responses: the turn to ‘BRIC’ and the case of China

Ngai-Ling Sum


This chapter uses cultural political economy to examine the emergence of the ‘BRIC’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economic imaginary as an ensemble of discourses and practices that provided a sense of ‘hope’ and ’strength’ after 11 September 2001 and that was recontextualized and sedimented after the 2007 financial crisis. It also presents a case study of the appropriation and recontextualization of this imaginary in China. Cultural political economy (hereafter CPE) makes a ‘cultural-linguistic’ turn in critical political economy to explore the coevolving semiotic-material bases of capital accumulation, its crisis tendencies, and crisis management capacities (Sum 2005; Sum and Jessop 2006; Sum 2010). Discursive processes are especially prominent during crises, when diverse actors, for different reasons, seek to construe and explain the crisis, to attribute blame and exonerate other factors and actors, and to imagine diverse routes to recovery (see Jessop, this volume, Chapter 12). My contribution has three main parts. The first examines how transnational actors constructed and promoted the BRIC imaginary as one response to emerging signs of crisis in the US and Europe. The next part examines how the ‘BRIC’ discourses are being recontextualized in China in terms of ‘four golden brick countries’ and how this is being used to signify China’s new ‘strength’ and ‘greatness at last’.

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