Claiton Fyock


Myanmar is in the midst of a major political/economic transition. After years of repressive rule under a harsh military regime, the country is moving towards liberalism. At the behest of the domestic and foreign liberal pressure, the foundations of liberalism including the rule of law, democracy, and open markets are taking shape in Myanmar. This paper demonstrates the lack of agency that Myanmar, both as a state and for the citizens within the state, maintains during this transition. This lack of agency is due, in part, to the neoliberal interpretation of liberalism and its founding tenets. Utilizing Roberto Unger and Susan Marks’s theories of “False Necessity” and “False Contingency,” I will demonstrate how international institutions and ideologies are propagated and forced on Myanmar. The belief in these ideologies and institutions creates pressures and imposes limitations on the systems that they influence in Myanmar. These pressures and limits, in turn, create a lack of true agency in the transition that Myanmar and its people are experiencing. I begin by first exploring the general liberal thought in regards to transition. I then demonstrate the false contingencies that a neoliberal understanding on the liberal tenets reflects. I apply this dynamic to actual circumstances in Myanmar as a case. The thesis concludes with the exploration of the concept of false contingency on Myanmar’s transition to democratization, neoliberalizing markets, and its embrace of human rights.


Law Department

Degree Name

MA in International Human Rights Law

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2015

First Advisor

Sayed, Hani

Committee Member 1

Beckett, Jason


63 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Burma -- Neoliberalism.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Democracy -- Burma.


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


University Fellowship