Movements of the Alternatives for Development Approaches in Thailand (1980 to present)

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Jirapat Pornprompratan


The objectives of this study are: (1) to study the idea alternative development in Thailand; (2) to study the process of alternative development in Thailand; and (3) to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, and counterpoints of each school of thoughts of alternative development in Thailand. The scope of the study covers periods from the 2nd Process until present (1979 – 2017). This research is a qualitative research, conducted through literature review and in-depth interviews. The study found that the ideas and development process of alternative development have changed due to the societal development. In 1970’s, Thailand saw the rise of political economy, Buddhism-led development groups, and the concept of culture of the community. In 1980’s, Thailand experienced explosive growth in trade and industry, which led to the deterioration of natural resources, such as lands, water, and forests, and disputes on essential resources. These developments led to the concepts of sustainable development and communal rights. In the 90’s Thailand faced economic crisis, coupled with the faith in King Rama IX and government measures. This rendered the idea of Sufficiency economy a major alternative development approach for Thailand. The definition of alternative development should focus on equality, rather than economic growth, and foster the strength of the grass-root citizens. However, Sufficiency economy might not be counted as an alternative development. This is due to the fact that the principles of Sufficiency economy focus on the people’s abilities to rely on themselves; it does not contain the provisions on social structure or wealth distribution. As for recommendation for future studies, what would happen should Sufficiency economy become the main alternative development approach in Thailand should make an interesting object of study. Furthermore, the study of the process of societal changes in Thailand should be conduct through the lens and scope of Post-development approach.

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