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Boyle, Christopher and Rosenberg, Justin (2019) 'Understanding 2016: China, Brexit and Trump in the History of Uneven and Combined Development.' Journal of Historical Sociology, 32 (1). e32-e58.

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This article uses the theory of uneven and combined development (U&CD) to produce a novel explanation of ‘Brexit and Trump’ – the two shock political events of 2016. The argument proceeds in three steps. First, we identify the global conjuncture of historical unevenness in which the votes occurred: how the neoliberal transformation of the advanced capitalist countries was synchronized with the radically different process of primitive accumulation in China. Second, we apply the theory of U&CD to this peculiar ‘simultaneity of the non‐simultaneous’: the ‘big country’ effects of China's industrialization, we find, were thrice multiplied by its combination with the advanced sectors of the world economy, which accelerated China's take‐off, brought forward its export phase, and widened its export profile at a moment of maximum openness in international trade. Finally, this produced the pattern of development that led to the events of 2016: the resultant trade shocks intensified the internal inequalities of British and American societies in ways that match the geography of the Leave and Trump votes. The analysis has a wider intellectual implication too, for the phenomena of historical unevenness and combination are intrinsic to the history of the global political economy; and the theory of U&CD therefore has a unique contribution to make to the field of International Political Economy.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Brexit, Trump, uneven and combined development, late industrialization, China, International Political Economy
ISSN: 14676443
Copyright Statement: © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Wiley in Journal of Historical Sociology on 10 March 2019, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2018 11:34

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