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The rise of internationalized capital: ASEAN economic governance and Indonesian conglomerates

Al-Fadhat, Muhammad Faris (2017) The rise of internationalized capital: ASEAN economic governance and Indonesian conglomerates. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Since the end of the Cold War, the forms, instruments and mechanisms of regional economic institution in many parts of the globe have increasingly become a matter of scholarly debate. The prominent accounts emerging from International Relations (IR) theory draw attention to the functional process of such regional project. The problem with this perspective lies in the static notion of the state that separates it from the underlying processes of social forces and political coalitions. The political economy literature, on the contrary, with its focus on domestic politics places more analytical weight on the capitalist class and its position/s with respect to regional governance. Yet, even this literature is limited by its focus on the role of ‘national capital’. This obscures the role of internationalization process in constituting transnational or regionalized capitalist interests and forces.

In contrast, this thesis develops a new social and class relations approach for explaining the structure and the possible trajectories of regional economic governance. Through the case study of economic integration project of ASEAN, this thesis is concerned with analysing the social forces and political coalitions driving regional integration projects of Asian states. It asks which social forces, within the domestic political economy of Asian states, are driving governments to seek regional arrangements for economic governance. In particular the thesis asks how the emergence, reorganization, and expansion of capitalist class have conditioned political support for regional economic integration. By addressing these issues, this study emphasizes that the wellspring of regional economic institution projects stem from transformations in the nature, spaces, and forms of capital accumulation and the social forces it has unleashed.

This thesis argues that regional economic governance has been shaped as part of, and systematically affected by, the broader context of the internationalization of capital, where the profit-making activities operate beyond territorial boundaries. In this sense, such project has crucially provided foundations for the vast expansion of capital across the region; specifically through regionalization of trade flows, production networks, and capital investment. It is noteworthy that the most internationalized fraction of capitalist has become the motor-force of this process, notably through its alliance with state apparatuses and other social and political forces which manifests in the form of economic policies that support the projects of regional integration. The key insight of this study is to bring the role of capital back into the analysis of regional trade governance.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School Of Business and Governance
Supervisor(s): Wilson, Jeffrey and Jayasuriya, Kanishka
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