Sophorntavy Vorng

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Educated in Australia, Sophorntavy Vorng is an anthropologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Germany. Her scholarly interests include space and politics, consumption and identity, aspirations and status inequality, and contemporary Buddhist belief and practice. She has also conducted research on religion and addiction in northern Thailand.

Books by this author

A Meeting of Masks

Status, Power and Hierarchy in Bangkok

A fresh understanding of the ongoing Thai political conflict is offered in this exploration of the connections between status, space, and social life in Bangkok. Looking beyond the ‘urban–rural divide’, the author points to a more complex reality in which city and countryside are linked by reciprocal relations based on status and class. Everyday interclass relations in Bangkok have seen a diminishment and marginalization of upcountry Thais by the urban middle classes, thus creating an incendiary dynamic exploited in the current political power struggle. At the same time, middle-class culture and identity are shaped by elite perceptions but aspirations for upward mobility are thwarted by structural constraints and a privileging of wealth and connections. Disenchantment is feeding a potentially explosive political situation yet there are few chances for reform while most people feel their only avenue for advancement is via the current system that many perceive as unjust.