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Mechanisms of uneven and combined development: a critical realist approach to the socio-political transformation in Syria and Libya

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2020
Mengüaslan, Hikmet
This thesis discusses the phenomenon of development in the context of the mechanisms of Uneven and Combined Development (U&CD) entailed in the development of world economy. It employs the concept of U&CD instead of development, and brings in the concept of “emergentist development”. It utilizes a historical materialist and Critical Realist (CR) methodology in explaining the mechanisms of U&CD. Accordingly, it scrutinizes the Eurocentric and modernist conceptualizations of development. It argues that the Eurocentric and modernist conceptualizations of development – due to conflated ontological understandings and undertheorized causal mechanisms - provide merely a superficial view of the complex social relations of development. The significance of this conceptual innovation is that it defies any reductionist, linear and mechanical conceptualization and explores the complex and the specific projections of development encountered by societies. Sensitized to the ontological depth and generative mechanisms, the emergentist development approach examines the emergent hybridities and amalgamations within socio-political transformation processes, and provides deeper structural explanation to uneven development processes. It emphasizes that the mechanisms of social differentiation and stratification are nested in wider development processes. As a case study, the thesis analyzes the socio-political transformation in Syria and Libya. The advantage of this conceptualization is that it brings together under the framework the global dynamics of development with contextual and local conditions providing a more totalistic and explanatory perspective.