The political economy of networked mobility : the historical development of the Korean information infrastructure, 1995-2005
MetadataShow full item record
This qualitative study describes and analyzes the contextual factors that have conditioned the Korean Information Infrastructure (KII) project implemented by the Korean government between 1995 and 2005. The theoretical framework undergirding this study is the political economy of networked mobility, which is given detail by the theory of globalization, state theory (especially, the developmental state theories concerning East Asia), and critical geographies. The theory of globalization aims at situating Korea’s information and technology growth within the universal structure of networked global capitalism, and revealing it as a desperate striving to enlist the local as an active part of the new global network; the developmental state theories that interpret the East Asian “economic miracle” seek to evaluate specific linkages of the state and capital for economic imperatives; and critical geographies allow this study to uncover the hidden layers of the spatial reconfigurations actively implemented by the state and large capital. Employing these three theoretical approaches, this study examines the major contextual factors conditioning the KII project in Korea: the global constraints conditioning its telecom policies (globalization theory), the dense state--capital linkages (developmental state theories), and the bureaucratic desire for control and the shift in capital accumulation to a knowledge-based mode of production (critical geographies). As methods for analysis, the data for this study are gathered from archival documents and also incorporate in-depth informant interviews with key actors from both the public and the private sector who were directly involved in the KII project. This study examines that, although the KII project was no longer implemented by an autocracy, the close relationships between the government and the Chaebols were influential in designing the national IT plans, and civil society’s ability to be involved in or monitor the policymaking processes was limited. The present study concludes that the state plan of a “second-stage catching-up” economy through the KII project has easily overruled voices from below by regarding them as unnecessary noise. This study suggests that policy change in Korea should lead toward reformulating telecom policies along much more socially-interventionist and redistributive lines, and toward decentralizing or democratically controlling the overwhelming power of the Chaebols, Korean conglomerates.