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248 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Ian A. Skoggard. The Indigenous Dynamic in Taiwan's Postwar Development : The Religious and Historical Roots ofEntrepreneurship. New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1996. 224 pp. Hardcover $62.95, isbn 1-56324-845-x. Paperback $24.95, isbn 1-56324-846-8. In this book, Ian Skoggard effectively makes the argument that while "the state, foreign capital and die restructuring of the world economy had much to do with Taiwan's growth, the Taiwanese people were also a proactive force" (p. xvii). Skoggard explores the local history and culture ofTaiwan, providing a context from which to understand the development of the shoe industry, its local entrepreneurs , workers, and their families. The analysis that follows evokes the best of the old Industry Series of the Nankai Institute of Economics, published in the 1930s and 1940s (see, for example, H. D. Fong [Fang Xianding] and Y. T. Ku, "Shoemaking in a North China Port," Chinese Social and Political Science Review 18 [1934-1935])ยท The shoe industry in post-World War II Taiwan owed its origins to the introduction of secondhand Japanese shoemaking equipment into a preexisting household-based hat-making industry (p. 94). From these humble beginnings in the late 1960s, and with government encouragement, the new industry expanded tenfold by the mid-1970s, when "exports surpassed 200 million pairs, and sales reached $86 million" (p. 54). With a production regime marked by a "decentralized production network of small-scale factories, workshops, and households interconnected by a subcontracting system . . . Taiwan became the largest supplier of shoes to the world market and provided nearly half of all U.S. shoe imports" (p. xx). Given the title of Skoggard's book, and his overall argument that not enough attention has been given to the indigenous dynamic of Taiwan's development, it is somewhat surprising (but pleasantly so) to discover an exhaustive discussion of Taiwan's dependent position in the world capitalist system, of the role of U.S. foreign aid "as a source of the foreign exchange needed for the purchase abroad of capital goods for industrialization" (p. 50), and ofwhat Skoggard calls Taiwan's specific form oflinkage to the world economy. For Skoggard, production relations in the shoe industry are characterized by "marketing dependency," a regime under which "Taiwanese owned factories manufacture commodities to be sold under the brand names of transnational cory mversity porations or large retailing companies." The arrangement "shifts onto domestic manufacturing firms the burden of fixed capital costs, without allowing them to secure market share needed to protect those investments," which in turn "discourages entrepreneurs from making any large, long-term investment in export ofHawai'i Press Reviews 249 industries" (p. 70). To effectively compete in this niche allotted to them in the international division oflabor, Taiwan's entrepreneurs practice a form of"guerrilla capitalism" in which only a minimum amount ofcapital is committed to a project for short-term gain before pulling out and moving on to another venture (p. 62). There is much in the organization ofproduction and the division oflabor in these enterprises that the notion of"flexible production" or "flexible accumulation " was designed to describe. Skoggard puts David Harvey's (1991) discussion of the phenomenon to good use in his analysis ofthe shoe industry's pattern ofinternational and local subcontracting, fragmented ownership, household production , and the exploitation ofwomen's labor. By the 1980s, however, the industry's customers began to look elsewhere for still cheaper labor (p. 62), and virtually every Taiwan shoe-producing enterprise Skoggard visited in 1989 had "cut back production and was in the process ofsetting up an overseas operation, in China, Indonesia, the Philippines or Thailand" (p. 64). Among Skoggard's noteworthy contributions in this volume is his discussion ofhow "the promotion ofhousehold-based industrial production circumvented the potential conflict between patriarchy and capitalism over the appropriation of women's labor" (p. 134). For Skoggard, "the interests ofpatriarchy and capitalism . . . converged to form a new system of domination in which . . . most rural women have been channeled into the bottom ranks ofTaiwan's emerging proletariat " (p. 134). This new patriarchy is also manifest in the proliferation ofbordellos , massage parlors and floor shows, ubiquitous...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 248-251
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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