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Weber meets Godzilla: social networks and the spirit of capitalism in East Asia and Africa

Meagher, Kate (2012) Weber meets Godzilla: social networks and the spirit of capitalism in East Asia and Africa. Review of African Political Economy, 39 (132). pp. 261-278. ISSN 0305-6244

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Identification Number: 10.1080/03056244.2012.688804


This paper explores the cultural foundations of contemporary network capitalism in East Asia, and its implications for African enterprise development. It considers how neo-Weberian perspectives on the cultural determinants of East Asian network success have served to validate intensified processes of labour exploitation while glossing over the role of the state in making networks work for development. It is argued that the ideology of the Confucian ethic draws on notions of social solidarity to normalise the use of unfree labour in capitalist accumulation strategies, while concealing the critical role of the state in mobilising society around cultural values and socialising risk to diffuse potentially disruptive social tensions. The obfuscation of these processes in cultural analyses of Asian network success has cast the poor performance of African enterprise networks as a product of cultural dysfunction, obscuring underlying processes of state withdrawal and policy failure. The problems arising from Chinese business networks in Africa bring out the contradictions of cultural interpretations of network dynamism.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Routledge
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
D History General and Old World > DT Africa
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2012 13:03
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:15

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