The (dis)embodiment of human capital development projects: the case of Vietnam before and within the global “race for talent”
International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)
The (dis)embodiment of human capital development projects: the case of Vietnam before and within the global “race for talent” (Abstract)
Chi Hong Nguyen
This paper adds nuance to existing human capital theory by critiquing the rationality principle underpinning this theory that leads to the disembodiment of skills and knowledge. Accordingly, individual investment in education is said to be rationally calculated on a cost‐and‐benefit basis, and a collective of individual skills and knowledge enables social development. In contrast, by using the Heideggerian perspective of engagement with the world, it is argued in this article that such decisions can be affected and reshaped by individuals’ embodied interactions with others under the effects of socio-political norms and practices. As such, investment in education and training and its outcomes are socially and politically shared and enacted. This argument is supported by an examination of the evolving human capital policies in Vietnam that disembody human capital from individuals’ embeddedness in the world. In Vietnam, human capital is considered as a diplomatic, political, economic, and innovative commodity for socioeconomic development and participation in global competition for talent. This public commodity is collective, symbolic, and quantifiable. This disembodied commodity is produced through a joint-venture effort among individuals, the Vietnamese Government’s exercise of multilateralism, other governments, and foreign universities.