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Book Reviews The Korean Road to Modernization and Development. By Norman Jacobs. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1985. The Kim Young Sam-Kim Dae Jung split; the social position of the eleventh class of the Korean Military Academy; the Bank of Korea's credit lifeline to the chaeböL·; the monopolistic-monopsonistic relationship between the National Agricultural Cooperatives Federation (nonghyöp) and the farmers—what do these defining characteristics of the Korean political economy have in common? According to Normanjacobs , each reflects patrimonial principles of social organization that undergird the Korean social structure. Jacobs's The Korean Road to Modernization and Development is about social domination, that is, the social relationships of domination and subordination that determine the distribution of authoritative (political) and allocative (economic) resources among social groups (see Giddens 1985). According to Jacobs , patrimonial ordering principles permeate all major Korean social institutions and, as a result, explain much about the postwar Korean (Republic of Korea) response to modernization/development imperatives. Jacobs resurrects classical sociological arguments (put forth by Marx and Weber, among others) specifying a distinctive "Asiatic" or "Oriental" mode of social domination. In premodern Asian agrarian societies, relations of domination/subordination in political and economic life were based ultimately on discretionary grants of authority and prerogatives from superiors to subordinates (e.g., tax farming 229 230Journal of Korean Studies rights) in recognition of patrimonial ties of personal and/or primary group (kinship and/or locality) loyalties. Such grants are termed prebends . According to Jacobs, the capriciousness of allocation of social and economic resources by patrimonial (prebendal) favor precludes effective ends-means calculations and thus stifles pragmatic action. People spend too much time preserving delicate social networks and currying favor with social notables, rather than working to establish legally recognized, socially effective, countervailing instruments of power (e.g., interest-articulating organizations) to challenge and/or bargain with those who control strategic political and economic resources . Jacobs contrasts Asian patrimonial social organization with contemporaneous feudal social orders in Western Europe and Japan. The "contracts" between lords and vassals specified rights and obligations , unlike the open-ended, situational prebendal ties in patrimonial regimes. The end result was the emergence in feudal societies of legally defined rights and privileges for individuals and social groups, decentralization of political authority, and the attendant multiplication of diverse centers of social power. This social structure fostered a behavioral environment of rational, contractual, pragmatic action. According to Jacobs, a patrimonial social structure traps Korean society in a "nondevelopmental" straitjacket. Unlike feudal-cummodern societies with social relationships that enable society to reach its "maximal potential," Korea is modernizing (e.g., industrializing and urbanizing), but not developing. Unanswered questions abound. Is Korea's patrimonial social order autochthonous or is it an offshoot of a generic "Asiatic" mode of social domination? How can Japan be "developed" and Korea "nondeveloped" if Japanese policymakers continue to fret over Korean industrial competition in world markets as we move toward the twenty-first century? In fact, Jacobs contradicts his own argument about nondevelopmental, patrimonial economic relationships when he interjects the concept of "selective" patrimonialism (p. 121) to explain away high degrees of competitive success in certain Korean economic sectors. When are economic relationships in Korea patrimonial, when are they not, and what is the relationship between the two sociologies of economic activity? Is it possible that there is a synergistic relationship between the "atavistic patrimonial economy" and the "modern developmental economy?" Unfortunately,Jacobs uses an ethnocentric definition ofdevelopment (harking back to the modernization literature of the early 1960s) to interpret what has happened in South Korea since 1960. Granted, Book Reviews231 care must be taken in defining what we mean by development. But labeling the entire process as "nondevelopmental modernization"— a result of patrimonial social organization—does not get us very far in understanding either the structural attributes or the processual dynamics of Korea's competitive advance in the world political economy . The linkage between patrimonialism and "center dominance" is an understated and underargued theme in this work. Jacobs explicitly states that he views Henderson's (1968) thesis of the political updraft toward the "center" and the political atomization of the masses as essentially correct, albeit Henderson applied inappropriate western categories (e.g., mass...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1665
Print ISSN
0731-1613
Pages
pp. 229-234
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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