The Persistence of Sociocultures and Inequality in Contemporary Southeast Asia

  • Vincent Houben
  • Boike Rehbein
Part of the Frontiers of Globalization Series book series (FOG)


Research on inequality often neglects history and social structures. In this chapter, we argue that we can understand inequality adequately only if we trace the historical development of social structures. New classes appear, old ones disappear, new social categories evolve and transform the entire system of classification, while many of the components of social reality that emerged historically persist at least partially in contemporary societies. This is one of the few points Marx (1974) and Weber (1978) agreed upon. Some have forgotten this, because the historical method is associated with nineteenth-century evolutionism and the grand narratives of a Eurocentric history, finding its fulfillment in Euro-American modernity. This type of narrative still resonates in grand Eurocentric theories. Most empirical research, especially on the global South, finds no place for such theories and therefore tends to discard historical approaches altogether.


Middle Class Gini Coefficient Socioeconomic Inequality Global Capitalism Colonial Power 
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© Vincent Houben and Boike Rehbein 2011

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  • Vincent Houben
  • Boike Rehbein

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