The Korean State


Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Room 226, Cambridge, MA

Stein RingenHow South Korea Lifted Itself Out of Poverty and Dictatorship to Affluence and Democracy
Stein Ringen, University of Oxford

About the Seminar
There are two great mysteries in the political economy of South Korea. How could a destroyed country in next to no time become a sophisticated and affluent economy? And how could a ruthlessly authoritarian regime metamorphose with relative ease into a stable democratic polity?

Korean economic development has been, as is well known, state led. However, to make sense of that established wisdom, we need to understand in some detail how that state has worked and what kind of leadership it has provided. While authoritarianism was imposed with revolutionary means – two, arguably three, coups d’état – it ended without counter-revolution. Democracy did not require a dismantling of the state that had been built up during the dictatorship. There must be something in the structure of that state that enabled democratic rulers to take it over and readily work with it.

About Stein Ringen
Stein Ringen is a professor of sociology and social policy at the University of Oxford focused on political science, sociology, and economics. His professional career includes work with various academic posts, broadcasting journalism, international agencies, and government. He has previous posts as assistant director general in the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and professor of welfare studies at the University of Stockholm. Ringen has had visiting professorships and fellowships in Paris, Berlin, Barbados, Prague, Sydney, Jerusalem, and Harvard University.

Democracy Seminar Series
The Democracy Seminar Series brings distinguished speakers to Harvard Kennedy School for the academic year to address critical challenges facing democratic governance.