The impending retreat of US troops from Afghanistan has brought renewed discussion on Pakistan amidst both US and Chinese alliances. Much of the scholarship on Pakistan centers around its military and foreign policy, but less attention has been given to the specific social formations that inform the nation’s development.

In a 2014 article, S. AKBAR ZAIDI offers a corrective, arguing that the focus on Pakistan’s state and military has obscured readings of class.

From the article:

“The analysis in Pakistan suggests that institutions rather than class determine the nature of the state. The media, judiciary, and parliament are all multi-class institutions, as is the military, although they all work for the defence of the capitalist order in which they function, with the purpose of accumulating more capital. However, they are not class organisations in the way landlords or the industrial bourgeoisie are perceived to be. Yet, these are certainly not institutions that are radical, though they occasionally raise their voices for oppressed nationalities and peoples. Class seems lost in the analysis. The discourse, especially in Pakistan, focuses on very broad categories, such as institutions and on “feudals” and the military.

In recent years, understanding Pakistan has been premised on notions of “Islam”, and the country has been forced into an analytical Islamic framework as if no other sense of existence or identity existed. While Islam may be important in analysing Pakistan, it is certainly not the only or even dominant category to examine it, especially in its social formation and class categories. It is the Islam of the post- 9/11 era that has suddenly surfaced as the core of such analyses.”

Link to the text.

  • “Though Pakistan’s class structure has undoubtedly changed, its ruling classes—which I define specifically as the economic and political 1 percent—have retained their hold on political and economic resources very successfully.” Rosita Armytage revisits Zaidi’s argument on shifting class structures. Link. And Muhammad Ali Jan examines segmentation within the landlord class. Link.
  • “The military-bureaucratic elites believed that they had to promote a ‘capitalist spirit’ and encourage the formation of financial-industrial groups…thus emerged a patron-client relationship between [the two groups].” Saeed Shafqat on civil-military relations in Pakistan between 1973 and 1996. Link.
  • In a 1998 article, Hamza Alavi criticizes India-centered explanations of US-Pakistan military alliances, arguing it “obscures the extent to which Pakistan was increasingly drawn into west Asia following the role it was assigned by the US in western military strategy.” Link.

(pinboard: class, state, military)


Gender Inequality & Fiscal Policy

EURYDICE FOTOPOULOU is Lecturer in Economics at Goldsmiths’ Institute of Management Studies. A 2019 paper co-authored with Özlem Onaran and Cem Oyvat models the gender wage gap and employment outcomes of different fiscal policy mixes in the UK.

From the paper:

“[This paper develops] a unified model, integrating i) the impact of three dimensions of inequalities –functional income distribution between wages and profits, gender inequality, and wealth concentration, and their interactions; ii) the impact of fiscal policies, particularly the effects of government spending in social vs. physical infrastructure, and different types of taxation; iii) both the demand and supply-side effects; iv) effects on both output and employment. We estimate this general model econometrically for the UK using time series data for the period of 1970-2016. The positive impact of public social infrastructure investment on both output and employment is much higher, and despite a strong positive effect on productivity, employment of both men and women increase in the medium-run as well. An increase in the tax rate on wealth decreases wealth concentration, and has a positive and the strongest impact on output, employment and the budget.”

Link to the text, link to Fotopoulou’s profile.

(pinboard: gender, fiscal_policy, new_researchers)

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations: (email: text: .

+ + +

  • “We must build a foundation for shared prosperity today.” In a NYT opinion piece, Representative Rashida Tlaib and former member of the Federal Senate of Brazil Eduardo Suplicy advocate for unconditional cash programs, referencing JFI’s work with the Federal Fluminense University in Maricá, Brazil. Link. And see a Boston Review piece co-authored by JFI’s Paul Katz and Leandro Ferreira on Maricá’s solidarity economy. Link.
  • “Until the difficult rebalancing and reforms on both sides of the Pacific gain traction, the world will continue to be on the dangerous path of inter-imperial antagonism resembling the international politics of a century ago.” New on PW, Ho-fung Hung explores US-China relations from post-Keynesian and Hobsonian perspectives. Link.
  • “The article asks how this mismatch between the power to block the flow of goods and the lack of power to achieve significant improvements of the truckers’ situation can be explained.” Jörg Nowak on the 2018 truckers’ strike in Brazil. Link.
  • Hossein Kermani and Marzieh Adham map over 2.5 million Persian tweets during a period surrounding Iran’s 2017 election. Link.
  • “I estimate that housing assistance for single adults experiencing homelessness reduces the likelihood of future return to the homeless system by 20 percentage points over an 18-month period.” Elior Cohen examines homeless housing programs in LA County. Link.
  • In Foreign Affairs, Charles King on J. William Fulbright and American internationalism. Link.
  • “We call for the creation, management and curation of behavioural data in public data trusts.” By Jathan Sadowski, Salomé Viljoen, and Meredith Whittaker. Link. And read Viljoen’s PW essay on data governance. Link.
  • Callen Anthony analyzes black boxing algorithmic technologies at an investment bank. Link. h/t Paul
  • “We document striking gender disparities within a government health insurance program that entitles 46 million poor individuals to free hospital care in Rajasthan, India.” By Pascaline Dupas and Radhika Jain. Link.
  • “I argue that early modern discoveries and production of precious metals in America can be used to identify the macroeconomic effects of monetary shocks. Variation in the availability of precious metals caused by the discovery of American mines of silver and gold led to exogenous monetary variation in Europe. Using a panel of six European countries, I find that monetary expansions had a material impact on real economic activity. The magnitudes are substantial and persist for a long time: an exogenous 10% increase in the production of precious metals in America measured relative to the European stock leads to a frontloaded response of output and, to a lesser extent, inflation.” By Nuno Palma. Link.

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations:

Subscribe to Phenomenal World Sources, a weekly digest of recommended readings across the social sciences. See the full Sources archive.