PhD defence


Mikkel Dehlholm


Global capitalism and the Rise of the Market-Leninist Developmental State – A methodological globalist analysis of China’s economic and social development since 1978

Assessment Committee

  • Associate Professor Sarah Swider, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (chair)
  • Professor Shaun Breslin, Warwick University, UK  
  • Professor Kevin Gray, University of Sussex, UK

The Department of Sociology will host a reception after the defence in room 16.1.62 at approx. 4 pm.
Prior to the defence, a paper copy of the dissertation is available for reading at the Department of Sociology, room 16.1.23.

English summary

The dissertation develops a novel methodological globalist research agenda for the study of macro-social processes, and applies it to the case of Chinese economic and welfare state development since 1978. The dissertation thus examines China’s economic and social development as a process of coevolution with the global capitalist economy, inter-state system, and global ideational field. The dissertation finds that the timing of China’s transition to capitalism played a substantial role, particularly in the first two decades (1978-98), when neoliberal economics and economic globalization profoundly influenced both economic and welfare state reforms. However, in the new millennium China has changed its development strategy as a response to the perceived failure of neoliberal reforms with regard to both social policy and in terms of allowing Chinese companies to climb the ladder of global value chains. On the basis of its unique set of political and economic institutions, and inspired by neighboring developmental states, China has increasingly exploited its grasp of the commanding heights of the economy to conduct an ambitious industrial policy aiming at developing strategic sectors at the pinnacle of global value chains. The role of the state in providing welfare has also drastically increased albeit from a low level. However, due to China’s large size and distinct political and economic institutions, China’s market-Leninist developmental state is not containable within the US-dominated global economic system. For this reason, both China’s economic model and the global economy are entering uncharted territory.