Ideas, Society and Politics in NE Asia and N Europe: Worlds Apart, Learning from Each Other

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edited by Ras Tind Nielsen and Geir Helgesen

Western scholars have long studied China, Japan and Korea (among other Asian countries). However, in recent years we have seen the study of western societies launched at certain Asian universities while an interesting new development is the establishment of Nordic studies in China, Japan and South Korea. Why is this? What possible interest could the low-tax, entrepreneurial countries of East Asia have in the high-tax, social welfare-oriented Nordic region on the opposite edge of Eurasia?

In the past few decades, all three Asian countries have experienced rapid economic development and as a result their societies are becoming more complex to govern. Several issues related to public welfare – for instance, the need to deal with an ageing population, income redistribution and provision of social security – were not considered important even 25 years ago. Today, their resolution is seen as essential to the countries’ continued, sustainable development. Such issues have long been in focus in the Nordic region and important lessons can be learnt from how they have been addressed. On the other hand, the Nordic countries are at risk of stagnation and have much to learn from the dynamism and flexibility found in East Asia. Meanwhile cultural and political differences between East and West pose challenges to mutual understanding and learning. However, the two regions are not uniformly distinct from each other; there are in fact distinct differences within the regions and interesting parallels between them. In short, this pattern of convergence and diversity makes a challenging point of reference for scholars and policy-makers from both regions. The exploration of how both regions have much to learn from each other is the focus of this intriguing volume of essays by both Eastern and Western scholars. 

Previously director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Geir Helgesen has long been engaged in the politics and culture of both Koreas.

Ras Tind Nielsen lectures at Niels Steensens Gymnasium in Copenhagen and also works as a China consultant.

Publication year: 2012
248 pp / 229mm x 152mm
10 figures
ISBN: 978-87-7694-100-0, Paperback

NIAS Press