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The Nature of Asian Politics
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Book description

The Nature of Asian Politics is a broad and thematic treatment of the fundamental factors that characterize politics in the fourteen key countries of Southeast and Northeast Asia. Bruce Gilley begins with an overview of state-society relations, then moves on to the fundamental questions of development and democracy, and finally shifts to an exploration of governance and public policy in the region. This book proposes an Asian governance model that is useful for understanding politics from Japan to Indonesia. By reviving an earlier paradigm known as oriental despotism and applying it to political theories on the Asian region, this book is likely to attract wide debate among students of Asian politics and among Western policy makers seeking to engage the region.


'In an era in which social science research is often narrow and inaccessible, Bruce Gilley has produced a refreshing, ambitious and innovative book on the nature of Asian politics. Gilley demonstrates an Asian model of governance that emphasizes the central and dominant role of state power and its continually changing relationship to society via the social goods provided by the state. It is sure to spark spirited and contentious debate on the distinctive character and shape of Asian politics.'

Kanishka Jayasuriya - Director, Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre (IPGRC), University of Adelaide

'Bruce Gilley has produced the boldest, freshest claims about a distinctive East Asian model that have been heard in years. Everything is in here - democracy, development, governance and policy. … strong states drive it all. But as Gilley shows, the grip that states have on their societies and economies does not depend solely on institutions and coercion. Using a notion of ‘refined Oriental despotism', he argues instead that across the region, states are derived from societal forces and historical records. A major new entrant in vital debates over East Asia’s striking advances.'

William Case - City University of Hong Kong

'Is there a unique ‘Asian’ form of politics? This is the important and challenging question at the heart of Bruce Gilley’s The Nature of Asian Politics. Negotiating the extremes of ‘Asian dynamism’ and ‘Oriental despotism’, Gilley proposes an ‘Asian governance model’, a form of Asian social contract, as the key to understanding politics in fourteen countries in Northeast and Southeast Asia. This articulate and ambitious book is a timely and thought-provoking contribution to our understanding of the Asian region and the study of politics more generally.'

Haig Patapan - Director, Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University, Queensland

'… I feel that Bruce Gilley’s book is very fresh and well-versed in Asian politics in terms of the basic political science concepts like state and society, development, democracy, governance, and public policy. Gilley should be applauded since Asian comparative politics has been dominated either by Western-biased modernization theory and fixed political culture narratives or by those area specialists sticking to the description of a society and politics they respectively specialize in.”

Takashi Inoguchi Source: Pacific Affairs

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