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Industrial workers, political space and the state in Thailand

Brown, Andrew (2001) Industrial workers, political space and the state in Thailand. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Labour weakness, political exclusion and the insignificance of class have formed recurring themes in contemporary studies of political change in industrialising East and Southeast Asia. In critically examining these themes in light of the Thai case, this study attempts to bring workers and their struggles back in from the margins, arguing that they need to be located more firmly at the heart of our understanding of the dynamics of political change.

In developing this position, the study argues that previous academic studies have produced distorted understandings of the relationship between workers and processes of political change in Thailand through the search for certain theoretically privileged forms of class struggle. Eschewing such a concern, the study argues that the research task is to examine the changing forms class relations, and struggles about these relations, take in specific social and historical contexts. Bringing this approach to bear on an analysis of the politics of labour control, the study draws attention to the 'mutually transforming' interactions that have developed between labour and the state in Thailand. The study empirically demonstrates that while the Thai state has indeed become entangled in the process of determining the forms of working class struggle, it nonetheless bears the scars of these interactions with labour. This is reflected not only in the logic of its operations and the expansion and development of its administrative and bureaucratic structures but, most especially, in the nature of its regimes and associated political spaces.

In sum, previous studies of Thailand have depicted the exclusion and weakness of organised labour from officially sanctioned political spaces as the result of blocked or immature development of class. By contrast, this thesis argues that such marginalisations of organised labour are in fact expressions of class struggle and class politics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Hewison, Kevin and Rodan, Garry
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