Civil Society, Capitalism, and Political Regimes in Southeast Asia


Working on Southeast Asia, one thing we tend to hear a lot of is the notion that civil society is shrinking, and that authoritarianism is on the rise. In fact the rise of anti-democratic and anti-liberal forces and ideas seems to be on the rise around the world, not just in the region.

Joining Dr Natali Pearson on SSEAC Stories, Professor Garry Rodan argues that contrary to popular claims, civil society is not generally shrinking in Southeast Asia. It is instead transforming, resulting in important shifts in the influences that can be exerted through it. Drawing from his book Civil Society in Southeast Asia: Power Struggles and Political Regimes (Cambridge University Press, 2022), he argues that political and ideological differences in Southeast Asia have sharpened as anti-democratic and anti-liberal social forces compete with democratic and liberal elements in civil society.

About Garry Rodan:

Garry Rodan is an Honorary Professor of Political Science & International Studies at The University of Queensland, Emeritus Professor of Politics & International Studies at Murdoch University, and an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. His research thematically analyses dynamic regime struggles between authoritarian, liberal and democratic forces and ideologies in Southeast Asia. He gives special analytical attention to the underlying political economy foundations of these struggles. Garry is the author of Civil Society in Southeast Asia: Power Struggles and Political Regimes (Cambridge University Press, 2022) and Participation without Democracy: Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia, (Cornell University Press, 2018).

For more details on Garry Rodan’s publications, go here.

For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website:

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Natali Pearson

Dr Natali Pearson is Curriculum Coordinator at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, a university-wide multidisciplinary center at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the protection, management and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage in Southeast Asia.

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