Sokphea YoungJun 15, 2022
Strategies of Authoritarian Survival and Dissensus in Southeast Asia
Weak Men Versus Strongmen
Palgrave Macmillan 2021
The durability of strongmen leaders in Southeast Asia has puzzled many scholars and observers of the region. In the book Strategies of Authoritarian Survival and Dissensus in Southeast Asia: Weak Men versus Strongmen (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), Sokphea Young offers a critical examination of the ways in which the ruling regime in Cambodia maintains political power, and how these strategies of regime maintenance extend to countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.
For Young, one way of understanding the longevity of strongman rule is by focusing on the cycle of interaction between government, business, and civil society. He finds that extractive economic institutions in Southeast Asia are essential in maintaining the power of regimes. While grassroots organisations use various tactics of resistance, Young argues that the outcomes of these protests, ultimately, are determined by the strength of neopatrimonial ties between business elites and the regime.
In this podcast, Young reflects on the book’s lessons for activist movements and civil society organisations in the region, how his background on international development and finance shaped his thinking on the book, the methodological opportunities available for researchers to conduct rigorous research on sensitive political matters, and the emerging developments in studying strongmen in Southeast Asia that are worth monitoring.
Dr Sokphea Young is currently an honorary research fellow at the University College London.
Like this interview? You may also be interested in:
- Sebastian Strangio, Cambodia: From Pol Pot to Hun Sen and Beyond (Yale University Press, 2020)
Nicole Curato is a Professor of Sociology in the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. She co-hosts the New Books in Southeast Asia Studies channel.
This episode was produced in collaboration with Erron C. Medina of the Development Studies Program of Ateneo De Manila University.