Capitalist development, the State, and big business in Korea : a sociological study of the Korean Chaebol.
This thesis is a sociological study of capitalist development, the state and big
business in Korea. It also seeks to contribute to the theory of social class through
an analysis of the internal and external relations of Korea's capitalist class.
Historically, it traces the overall effect of the state and foreign capital on big
business in Korea. The geopolitical environment and the expansion of the
military and bureaucracy are of great significance in understanding the state
structure and capacity, the authoritarian political system, and the governmentbusiness
relationship. The Korean state sustained extensive structural relations
with big business to implement its developmental goals, and big business became
the leading agent of national economic development. The state also played an
important part in shaping the ownership patterns, managerial system, and social
networks of big business.
Since the 1980s, however, the developmental state in Korea has gradually
declined as a result of economic liberalisation and political democratisation. At the
same time, the Korean bureaucracy is adapting itself to the new circumstances of
the changing global economy. This state adaptability has established a new way to
coordinate with the increasingly globalising big business groups. Thus post-1980
Korea can be seen as an example of such a developmental course in the transition
from state-led industrialisation to state-business coordination and collaboration.
Therefore, the increasingly strong big business class has developed a social
coalition with the state elites, reinforced through formal and informal networks.
The ultimate conclusions are that the Korean capitalist class constructed its
structural relations with ruling groups, and achieved a dominant economic and
social position in society. In other words, the economic class has become a social
class through increasingly dense social networks with other elite groups, and it
now acts as an integral part of the upper class.