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

Rosenberg, Justin and Boyle, Chris (2019) Understanding 2016: China, Brexit and Trump in the history of uneven and combined development. Journal of Historical Sociology, 32 (1). pp. 32-58. ISSN 0952-1909

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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: 19 Oct 2020 15:15
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/79858

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