1st Edition

Democracy and National Identity in Thailand

By Michael Kelly Connors Copyright 2003

    This book seeks to illuminate how Thai elites have used democracy as an instrument for order and discipline. Drawing on interviews, numerous Thai language sources, and critical theory, the author reveals a remarkable adaptation of the idea of democracy in the Thai context. Connors shows how elites have drawn on Western political theory to design projects to create modern citizens. He argues that it is possible to see the idea and practice of elite liberal democracy in Thailand, and elsewhere, as a key ideological resource in the project of securing hegemony over undisciplined populations. In this perspective the ideas of civil society, civic virtue, social capital and democracy itself are all part of the weaponry deployed in an effort to create 'good citizens', who act as guardians of the elite defined common good.

    1. Introduction: Talking Democracy2. Making Democracy Mean Something3. Before the Doctrine: From Constitutional Democracy to Thai-style Democracy4. Developmental Democracy: Villages, Insurgency and Security5. Delayed Liberalism, the General Will: the Doctrine Entrenched6. Citizen King: Emobdying Thainess7. New Times, New Constitution8. Liberalism, Civil Society and New Projects of Subjection9. Rethinking the Nation in Times of Crisis: Democracy, Civic Engagement and Community 10. Final Comments


    Michael Kelly Connors is Lecturer in Politics at La Trobe University, Melbourne. He has written articles for journals such as Democratization, Journal of Contemporary Asia and Thamyris, an International Journal of Feminist Inquiry.

    'A welcome contribution to the study of modern Thailand.' - Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism

    'This is a wonderfully constructed and thought-provoking account of the many elements of modern Thai democracy discourse.' - Journal of Contemporary Asia