Culture and Development: Reassessing Cultural Explanations on Asian Economic Development

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Gong, Yoo Shik; Jang, Won Ho

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Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
Development and Society, Vol.27 No.1, pp. 77-97
Economic success in East Asia has no precedent in the history of capitalist development, in terms of massive growth in the scales of economy in a relatively short period of time. However, existing theories of economic development have failed to unravel the East Asian puzzle fully. This has led scholars to search for new models and to develop an Asia-specific Confucian notion of economic development based on the assumption that successful Asian countries share a Confucianism as a common cultural factor. Although it has gained popularity over the years, the neo-Confucian perspective has a number of serious theoretical and methodological problems. This paper reviews the problems inherent in the neo-Confucian perspective and offers suggestions by which this perspective can be a viable and complentary approach to mainstream approaches to explaining development. The current Asian economic crisis seems to nullify neo-Confucian explanations for Asian development. This paper, however, argues that a cultural approach, if it solves inherent conceptual, theoretical, and methodological problems, has the potential to explain the current economic crisis as well as explaining rapid development in Asia.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Institute for Social Development and Policy Research (사회발전연구소)Development and Society Development and Society Vol.27 No.1/2 (1998)
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