Civil Society and Democratization

Social Movements in Northeast Thailand

by Somchai Phatharathananunth

  • Published:
  • Pages: 263 pp.
  • illustrated
  • Series number: 99
Available from NIAS Press worldwide

This book is for anyone wondering whatever happened to Thailand’s vanished Marxist insurgents or interested in understanding the forces behind the mass demonstrations of peasants that periodically descend on Bangkok. Specifically, the book investigates the struggle of an important social movement in Thailand, the Small Scale Farmers’ Assembly of Isan (SSFAI), and examines the role of civil society in the process of democratization

• A "sophisticated, well-researched and extremely important contribution to Thai political studies" (external reviewer)
• Succeeds in revising orthodox understandings of Thailand?s democratization by exploring the role and impact of neglected social forces
• Contains substantial empirical work on the SSFAI and related organizations.

This book is for anyone wondering whatever happened to Thailands vanished Marxist insurgents or interested in understanding the forces behind the mass demonstrations of peasants that periodically descend on Bangkok. Specifically, the book investigates the struggle of an important social movement in Thailand, the Small Scale Farmers’ Assembly of Isan (SSFAI), and examines the role of civil society in the process of democratization.

This first major work on the SSFAI demonstrates how civil society organizations in the form of social movements contribute to the democratization process in the key areas of citizenship rights. Moreover, the book also addresses two important themes in social movements research: the impacts of strategies and tactics on the outcomes of social movements, and the effect of organizational structure on movements’ goals and activities.

author image not supplied

Assistant Professor Somchai Phatharathananunth, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mahasarakham University, Thailand.

Assistant Professor Somchai Phatharathananunth, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mahasarakham University, Thailand.

I teach on Thai politics and social movements. My main research interests are social movements and democratisation. I am currently undertaking a research project titled ‘The Formation of the National State and Peasant Resistance in Thailand’. 

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by Wolfram Schaffar, Hildesheim University
From journal:
Journal of Current Southeast Asian Studies 28 (3), 2009

 When it was published in 2006, at the height of Thaksin’s power, Somchai felt he had to write an epilogue since it appeared that his study had been overtaken by events that seemed to have fundamentally changed Thai politics.

 When it was published in 2006, at the height of Thaksin’s power, Somchai felt he had to write an epilogue since it appeared that his study had been overtaken by events that seemed to have fundamentally changed Thai politics. … Only three years after its publication, however, Somchai’s book is again highly topical: street politics has come back to Thailand, the government is facing huge mobilisations and rallies, and much of today’s situation reminds us of the 1990s (which also explains why analysts tend to use the outdated models of that time). Once again, the people of Isan, their political priorities during past elections, and their capacity to mobilise are largely being denounced as anti-democratic, corrupt and a threat to democracy. […] Somchai’s study is an abundant source of very detailed and highly interesting data on social movements in Isan. It is absolutely worth reading, especially against the background of the present discourse in Thai politics … .

by Jim Glassman
From journal:
Journal of Contemporary Asia, vol. 38, no. 4, November 2008

“…it lays a significant foundation for understanding contemporary Thai politics and the relationships between Bangkok and northeast Thailand..” “While the details of this account may be of special

“…it lays a significant foundation for understanding contemporary Thai politics and the relationships between Bangkok and northeast Thailand..” “While the details of this account may be of special interest to Thai scholars, the implications of Somchai’s analysis certainly merit broader consideration.”

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