x3k3yldmh6be0m9y - New Political Economy, Vol. 9, No. 2,...

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New Political Economy, Vol. 9, No. 2, June 2004 Examining the Ideas of Globalisation and Development Critically: What Role for Political Economy? BEN FINE The purpose of this article is primarily to situate the rise of the idea of ‘globalisation’ in terms of its broader intellectual context, with some emphasis on the relevance for ‘development’, an equally contested concept. 1 In part, the aim is to provide an answer to the question that has recently been succinctly posed by David Harvey. He recognises that globalisation ‘is now one of the most hegemonic concepts for understanding the political economy of international capitalism. And its uses extend far beyond the business world to embrace questions of politics, culture, national identity, and the like. So where did this concept come from?’ 2 I offer a broad and partial answer to this question in the next section, arguing that ‘globalisation’ neatly captures two intellectual trends, the dual retreat from the excesses both of neoliberalism and of postmodernism. From preoccupation with deconstruction and semiotics across the social sci- ences, attention has increasingly been directed towards understanding the nature of contemporary capitalism as a system of power and conflict, of poverty and inequality, of environmental degradation, and so on. ‘Globalisation’ predomi- nantly represents a return in emphasis to the study of material realities other than as a system of signs. Interest has focused on how the world is organised and functions internationally and nationally, reflecting intellectual departure from a ‘virtual’ world of increasingly free and unconstrained markets. Such concerns have also reduced the appeal of neoliberalism, the idea that the world could and should be run as if a perfectly functioning set of markets with at most a light, facilitating touch by the state. In short, the rise of globalisation represents a reaction against, if not an absolute rejection of the influence of, neoliberalism and postmodernism. Not surprisingly, the globalisation reaction against neoliberal and cultural turns inevitably tends to incorporate an economic content. In this light, the second section advises of a third intellectual trend, the emergence of a new and virulent strain of ‘economics imperialism’ based on market, especially informational, failure. Whilst mainstream economics has become absolutely intolerant of dissent within its own discipline, it has increasingly sought to colonise other Ben Fine, Department of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H OXG, UK. ISSN 1356-3467 print; ISSN 1469-9923 online/04/020213-19 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/1356346042000218078
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Ben Fine disciplines, understanding both market and non-market phenomena as the ratio- nal, historically evolved responses to market failures. As a result, the other social sciences will need to negotiate their stances in relationship to mainstream economics in terms of the understanding both of the economic and the non- economic. This is germane to the understanding of development. For, as discussed
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x3k3yldmh6be0m9y - New Political Economy, Vol. 9, No. 2,...

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