Developmentalism and the Developmental State

September 30, 2020

First published in 1917, the Istanbul University Journal of Sociology is a publication of the Department of Sociology in Istanbul University’s Faculty of Letters, the first sociology department in Turkey. The Istanbul University Journal of Sociology is a peer-reviewed, biannually-published journal covered by international indexes such as the Web of Science Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) and TÜBİTAK ULAKBİM TR-Dizin (for further information, see

In the years following the World War II, the integration problem of non-Western countries to the (liberal) world order gave birth to two main approaches in the international arena:  developmental economics and the modernization theory. These two approaches emphasizing the dichotomies between the Western and non-Western societies postulate the (historical) pathway taken by Western societies as the only way towards modernity. 

During the period between 1960-1980, however, the economic performances of Japan and South Korea showed that developing countries could have alternative pathways in the process of development. In contrast to neoclassical economics, which attributes the dynamic of economic development solely to the market forces, a stream of literature on developmentalism and the developmental state in East Asia began to portray a different types of relationship between the state and the market.

During this period, Turkey and many Latin American Countries adopted an industrialization model of import substitution based on the advice from the IMF and the World Bank. Although economic performance in these countries was once promising, these countries later on suffered from economic and political turmoil due to military interventions. These experiences brought scathing attacks on the import substitution model and paved the way for the rise of neoliberalism that has assumed a strong correlation between liberal values and economic development. Since the late 1980s, the East Asian model of state-led economic growth has been called into questions amid the rise of Washington consensus in the world. 

The 2008 global financial crisis and its aftermath presented a serious challenge to the neo-liberalism and Washington consensus. It triggered renewed discussions on developmentalism and the developmental state and a global surge of industrial policy.   In this new returned discussion on industrial policy, China has drawn great attention. The uniqueness of the Chinese experience lies in the fact that the state has never relinquished its role in economic development even during the heyday of neoliberalism.  It has not only engaged in building infrastructure, improving business environment, strengthening the supply of human capital in order to attract foreign direct investment, but more important, it has also made great efforts to promote technological innovation.  Since 2013 China has been trying to promote its ambitious projects One Belt One Road Initiative and thus presents a different model of economic development with global implications.  

Although the Turkish Republic has considered the idea of development as its main goal, the social sciences in the Turkey have never seriously discussed the concept of developmentalism and the practice of the developmental state. The Turkish academia is quite familiar with modernization theory, dependency theory, and the world system approach. However, it has largely failed to examine the role played by the state in the economy. While the English version of this special issue aims at joining the global scholarly conversation on developmentalism, its Turkish version aims at bringing academic interest to this topic in Turkey.

This special issue of Istanbul University Journal of Sociology will focus on developmentalism and the developmental state and it will be published bilingually in both English and Turkish.

This special issue plans to compile papers that approach developmentalism and the developmental state from different disciplines, including but not limiting to sociology, political science, and international relations.  

This special issue invites original research, high-quality submissions. Topics may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Developmentalism in comparative perspectives
  • Different patterns of state-market relationship under the paradigm of developmentalism
  • The role of state in capital accumulation
  • Institutional configuration of developmentalism
  • New industrial policy of the developmental state
  • Technological innovation and developmentalism
  • The socio-economic and geopolitical implications of China’s infrastructure projects 
  • Neoliberalism and developmentalist policies
  • Developmentalism in Turkey
  • Developmentalism across Asia, Africa, Latin America
  • Sustainable development
  • Local and regional development

Articles should be submitted by September 30, 2020 in either Turkish or English through the link: Journal will arrange translations. Articles submitted for consideration must be a complete manuscript that adheres to the Istanbul University Journal of Sociology’s submission requirements, which can be found on the journal’s official website: For further questions regarding the issue please contact bai.gao [at] and Emrah Yıldız at e.yildiz [at]  You are kindly requested to direct your technical questions to: sosyolojidergi [at]