Understanding 2016: China, Brexit and Trump in the history of uneven and combined development

Rosenberg, Justin and Boyle, Chris (2018) Understanding 2016: China, Brexit and Trump in the history of uneven and combined development. Journal of Historical Sociology. ISSN 0952-1909 (Accepted)

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Abstract

This article uses the theory of uneven and combined development (U&CD) to produce a novel explanation of ‘Brexit and Trump’ – the two shock political events of 2016. The argument proceeds in three steps. First, we identify the global conjuncture of historical unevenness in which the votes occurred: how the neoliberal transformation of the advanced capitalist countries was synchronized with the radically different process of primitive accumulation in China. Second, we apply the theory of U&CD to this peculiar ‘simultaneity of the non-simultaneous’: the ‘big country’ effects of China’s industrialization, we find, were thrice multiplied by its combination with the advanced sectors of the world economy, which accelerated China’s take-off, brought forward its export phase, and widened its export profile at a moment of maximum openness in international trade. Finally, this produced the pattern of development that led to the events of 2016: the resultant trade shocks intensified the internal inequalities of British and American societies in ways that match the geography of the Leave and Trump votes. The analysis has a wider intellectual implication too, for the phenomena of historical unevenness and combination are intrinsic to the history of the global political economy; and the theory of U&CD therefore has a unique contribution to make to the field of International Political Economy.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Development
School of Global Studies > International Relations
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Global Political Economy
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2018 12:05
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2018 12:05
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/79858

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