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“For King and Country”: The yellow shirts of Thailand

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  1. “For King and Country”: The yellow shirts of Thailand The 11th International Conference on Thai Studies Siam City Hotel, Bangkok 28th July 2011 Presented by: Allan Lee MA Candidate Department of Sociology, NUS

  2. Scope • Introduction • Conceptualization: Class struggle, or not? • Framework: Social Closure • Application & Relevance: • Social Groups • Historical and Contemporary Usefulness • Conclusion

  3. Class struggle, or not? • Emergence of the Yellow shirts • Elite conflict • Thaksin’s corruption • Class struggle? • Marxian paradigm on class as reification • Towards a Weberian perspective • Economic interest • Life chances • Markets

  4. Social Closure an exclusionary relationship in which “social collectivities seek to maximize rewards by restricting access to resources and opportunities to a limited circle of eligibles…securing for itself a privileged position at the expense of some other group through a process of subordination.” (Parkin, 1979: 44-45) Social Closure as Exclusion Social Closure as Usurpation

  5. Social Groups • Class – tends toward homogeneity • Groups – allows for presence of different groups with differing and competing interests within a social stratum • Society as consisting of different social groups

  6. Contemporary Usefulness • Emergence of yellow shirts as consequence of exclusion • Thaksin’s increasing monopoly over economic and political spheres restricts access to opportunities and constitutes basis of social closure, or exclusion • Removal of Thaksin allows access to these resources that have been restricted

  7. Historical Usefulness • History of political conflict characterized by struggle for dominance and recognition by groups of actors occupying dissimilar social positions while attempting to secure similar interests • Post Cold War era of 1970s • Democratization project orchestrated by capitalist group (Pasuk, 2004) ended military-capitalist alliance and signaled advent of economic middle class as political actor • Late 1980s – Early 1990s: “Premocracy” • Prem’s “grand alliance” failed to incorporate middle class; tokenism for democracy

  8. Conclusion • Marxian perspective reifies class, limits appreciation of movement • Social groups, as opposed to ‘class’, as more dynamic and robust • Historically relevant, contemporarily useful • Understanding social movements and political phenomenon • Greater appreciation for ‘class’ in Thailand

  9. The End Thank you!