Business & Economics Books:

Market and Society in Korea

Interest, Institution and the Textile Industry

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Market and Society in Korea by Dennis McNamara
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How did industrial structures in textiles evolve in the absence of sophisticated market-supporting institutions? Assessing the roles of capital, labour, and state, McNamara discovers a distinctive style of interest bargaining to bridge uncertainties and foster entrepreneurship. The textile industry serves as a microcosm of the broader social changes of the past five decades. Dramatic transitions from family firms to professional capitalism, from state direction to regulation, and from company unions to industry federations take centre stage. Moving among executives, labour leaders, and state officials, the author charts development across the crucible of contending interests. Stretching from high technology to labour-intensive production, the textile industry offers a new profile of democratisation and market liberalization, and recently of globalization and adjustment in the wake of the Asian Financial Crisis. Rather than pluralism, corporatism, or clientelism alone, multiple competing channels address market imperfections and the inadequacy of institutions. This mosaic of different forms of trust, termed syncretic capitalism, channels interest conflicts and promotes the compromises necessary to bridge periods of crisis and concentrated growth. Interviews at firms, labour offices and government bureaus give human detail to the Korean growth and adjustment story. Market and Society in Korea provides a narrative of industrial families and state leaders, conglomerates and organized labour contesting, competing and sometimes cooperating in the making of an industry. The concept of syncretic capitalism taps the variety of societal forms of governance to balance the current emphasis on state-led development in South Korea. The first comprehensive review of the past and present of a leading sector, the volume offers a new interpretation of society and market in South Korea. Drawing insights from the New Economic Sociology, this study sheds new light on social systems of production in the South Korean Miracle. Contrasts with Thailand and Japan bring the Korean experience of interest contention into a comparative context of Asian capitalism.
Release date NZ
April 4th, 2002
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
16 Tables, black and white
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