Rethinking State-society Relations in Vietnam: The Case of Business Associations in Ho Chi Minh City
The growing private sector in the post-reform Vietnamese economy and its new forms of mobilisation have led to newly emergent social forces that have shaped internal state agendas and political deliberations. With a view to exploring the nature of institutional change in Vietnam, I argue that business associations have played a crucial intermediary role between the state and the private sector over past decades. These associations and the spaces of governance that they constitute are neither characteristic of autonomous actors as suggested by liberal theory nor a form of state corporatism. This paper adopts the “state-in-society” approach, which contends that the state and society should be considered through new governance spaces within the state. These spaces create institutional mechanisms for interaction between the government and business, and provide a framework for deliberative engagement between state and non-state actors. This framework will be tested through an examination of associations of small and medium enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City and their connections to the city authorities. I argue that business associations will be accommodated by the state and will coalesce with existing bureaucratic interests. This proposition contributes to the new research agenda that applies the state-in-society approach to post-socialist institutions.
Asian Studies Review
Government and Politics of Asia and the Pacific