This is the first volume in the The New Rich in Asia series which examines the economic, social and political construction of the 'new rich' in the countries and territories of East and South East Asia, as well as their impact internationally. From a western perspective the rise of the emergent business and professional class may seem very familiar. However, it is far from clear that those newly enriched by the processes of modernization in East and South East Asia are readily comparable with the middle classes of the West. For example, civil and human rights seem to play a different role in social, political and economic change, and the State is clearly more central as an agent of economic development. This volume is the essential introduction to the series, and identifies the 'new rich' phenomenon in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The contributors demonstrate that the key to understanding the 'new rich' is to realise that they are neither a single category or class, but in each setting a series of different socio-political groups who have a common inheritance from the process of rapid economic growth.