Hotels and tourists in an international political economy perspective : the case of Thailand
The thesis represents the analysis of a specific international sector, namely tourism and hotels, using perspectives drawn from international political economy (IPE). The major purpose is to illustrate the application of the emerging conceptual framework of IPE to demonstrate the value of this new approach in understanding international relationships. The central argument is that the conventional approaches of the discipline of international relations (IR) are too limited to account for change in social action at the international level and that the approach offered by new developments in IPE offers a more productive method of analysis and leads to more satisfactory explanation. A key issue in IR theory is the degree to which the conventional perspectives of the discipline are able to capture the full range of variables that influence outcomes in the international system. The new IPE attempts to resolve this issue through the concept of a set of power structures that broaden the scope of analysis beyond the restrictions imposed by traditional approaches in IR. International relationships are categorised through the structures of security, production, finance and knowledge, thus expanding the range of enquiry across a much more comprehensive spectrum of variables. A related issue is the relationship between politics and economics, which is conceptualised in the new IPE through the unifying concept of power, whether it is derived from wealth or the ability to coerce. Central to the new approach is an examination of sources of power within the structures, the use to which it is put and the outcomes that the use of power generates, within and between the structures. The empirical work was designed to demonstrate the strength of this approach through the analysis of a specific sector of the global political economy. The choice of a sector as the unit of analysis permits an examination of all key actors and relationships operating within the four structures. The case of the international hotel and tourism industry in Thailand illustrates the value of this approach by demonstrating the multicausal nature of observed outcomes and by revealing the source and relationship of multiple causal factors. The analysis thus brings out the roles played both by states and by the private sector and the way in which changes in the global financial system and, particularly, technology have generated change within the sector in varying ways and at varying times. The historical approach thus also brings out the dynamic nature of international relations as the changes within Thailand's tourism sector are described and explained through the analysis offered by the new IPE.