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Narrating Neoliberal Transitions: Rhetoric of the State in South Africa and Taiwan

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For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

AbstractThis paper investigates the rhetoric of the state in South Africa and Taiwan for installing neoliberal regimes. The ANC promotes a theory explaining why “tightening the belt” in the spirit of fiscal austerity is necessary for the post-apartheid economy. In Taiwan, the KMT state advances an argument that mobile capital free of border constraints promises favorable growth. The cognitive roadmaps the two states have crafted to influence people’s conceptions of a “general interest” play a critical role in obtaining wider approval for the deepening of market institutions. By using a narrative method to anatomize the “economic stories” of these two middle-income states, our study contributes to seeing through the details of ideal structures and exposing their potential weaknesses in inducing a neoliberal order.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, National Taipei University Taiwan, Email:, URL:


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