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Vietnam: Rethinking the State


About the Book

Vietnam: Rethinking the state offers an exciting and up-to-date look at the politics of this fascinating country as it seeks to make the transition from war-torn economic backwater to a dynamic and modern society. The book argues for a move away from the commonly associated idea of 'reform', arguing for a deeper understanding of the concept and questioning the idea of state-retreat. The result is a path-breaking book which gets beneath the surface of Vietnam's politics in a way which few outsiders otherwise could.

What People Have Said About the Book

'Gainsborough’s latest book offers a state-of-the-art exploration of political theory applied to the case of Vietnam. Posing fruitful and systematic questions about categories such as ’state’ and ‘society’, and placing these within a range of research issues, he teases out powerful conundrums as relevant for Vietnamese concerned with the political future of their country as for those attempting to analyse her politics. Clearly written and based upon extensive field work, his discussion of the value of theory amplifies a vivid focus upon the major issues Vietnam faces as the relatively easy development seen since the emergence of the market economy in 1989-91 morphs into her troubled transition to ‘middle income’ status and demands for higher quality economic growth.' - Adam Fforde, Adam Fforde & Assoc p/l (Chairman), Asia Institute, University of Melbourne (Principal Fellow), Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University (Professorial Fellow)

'Martin Gainsborough’s Vietnam: Rethinking the State is an arresting re-examination of politics in contemporary Vietnam through the framework of political economy. All Vietnamese studies specialists will have to stop in their tracks and read this volume before proceeding further. Gainsborough represents the best of the rising post-Vietnam War generation of scholars who has studied Vietnamese language and conducted extensive field work throughout Vietnam. He challenges conventional accounts of the state’s retreat in a thought provoking manner. His analysis will have appeal to a wider academic audience. Vietnam: Rethinking the State is written in an engaging style and is wonderfully structured and organised. Stop, read and proceed!' - Carlyle A. Thayer, author of War By Other Means: National Liberation and Revolution in Vietnam

'By challenging several concepts commonly used by observers of contemporary Vietnam – reform, the state, the centrality of national policy, and the rule of law – Martin Gainsborough has produced a lively, provocative analysis of political life in the country. His book is a must for specialists and non-specialists alike.' - Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet, Emeritus Professor, The Australian National University

'Martin Gainsborough is one of the most accomplished of a new generation of academic and policy specialists on Vietnam and the politics and political economy of the socialist transitional states. Vietnam: Rethinking the State provides a highly sophisticated yet always accessible and eminently readable discussion and analysis of key issues in the Vietnamese reform process that will be of keen interest to students, teachers, government officials, journalists, the business community and others. His discussion of politics and the state, the Communist Party, political economy, corruption, local politics, legislative politics and other important areas will be important to our broader, comparative understanding of developments in China and other states as well. Dr. Gainsborough's book is must reading for those interested in Vietnam, China, comparative politics in transitional socialist states, corruption, comparative legislative studies, and the political economy of development. It is a signal accomplishment by a distinguished scholar.' - Mark Sidel, Professor of Law and Lauridsen Research Fellow, University of Iowa, President, International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR)

'Martin Gainsborough's Vietnam: Rethinking the State initiates a needed dialogue on Vietnam's post-central planning state. It calls attention to the inter-weaving of state business interests, patronage networks, and political power that shapes Vietnam's one-party system. Discussions about emerging hybrid state features such as fragmentation, the blurring of public and private sectors, and the use of uncertainty as an instrument of rule open up possibilities for further research. Gainsborough's Vietnam is a valuable source of conceptual and empirical information for Vietnam specialists, practitioners of governance reform, and comparative political theorists.' - Thaveeporn Vasavakul, Southeast Asian Studies Specialist

'This book is an indispensable tool to make sense of the enormous transformations experienced by Vietnam over the last two decades. Martin Gainsborough insightful analyses show that rapid economic and social change are not incompatible with a resilience of political power and culture. He convincingly argues that scholarly language about "reforms" misses the point, because what is at play is a continuous reworking of existing power structures.' - Martin Rama, Lead Economist of the World Bank for Vietnam from 2002 to 2010

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