Global Market Cultures and the Construction of Modernity in Southeast Asia

Thesis Eleven 50 (1):1-14 (1997)
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Belief in the benevolence of free markets has become a fundamental credo of professional experts, economists, business people and politicians. We regard this discourse as part of a new culture of markets, which has also taken root in Southeast Asia. Expanding markets and using high-tech devices of communication are interpreted as cultural systems that are used in the construction of modernity. An `unbridled romanticism of productivity' (Baudrillard) and a `romance of capitalism' are the meta-narratives underlying the culture of markets. This theme is followed up on two empirical levels. The development policy of three Southeast Asian governments, namely Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, is briefly characterized as market corporatism, market socialism and high-tech developmentalism. We then focus on the emergence of the new middle classes, their actual and symbolic consumption and their lifestyles. Finally the decline of real markets, the creation of virtual markets and the state of postmodernity in Southeast Asia are discussed. We conclude that market fundamentalism and postmodern lifestyles characterize the beginning rather than the end of modernity in Southeast Asia



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The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.Jean-Francois Lyotard - 1985 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63:520.

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