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Title: Hegemony and counter-hegemony in the agri-food system in Thailand (1990-2014)
Author: Chiengkul, Prapimhan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 0484
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis has two main objectives: (1) to provide a critical political economy study of local-global interlinkages and structural problems of the current agri-food system, using a case study of Thailand; and (2) to explore the possibilities that the current agri-food system can be transformed towards more socially and ecologically sustainable paths. With these two objectives in mind, the thesis asks the central research question: "How have hegemonic and counter-hegemonic forces shaped the agri-food system in Thailand (1990 to 2014)?" The thesis uses a combined neo-Marxist and Gramscian theoretical framework, as well as English and Thai primary and secondary sources. Overall, 87 interviews from 7 provinces in the North, Central, South and Northeastern regions of Thailand are used in this thesis. The thesis argues four main points: (1) that the mainstream agri-food system in Thailand has been shaped to aid capital accumulation by domestic and transnational hegemonic forces, and is sustained through hegemonic agri-food production-distribution, governance structures and ideational order; (2) that the Thai sustainable agriculture and land reform movements' counter-hegemonic ideas, production-distribution practices, and governance structures have managed to influence the agri-food system in Thailand and offer alternatives to certain extents; (3) that hegemonic forces have many measures to co-opt dissent, alternative and reformist forces into hegemonic structures; and (4) that counter-hegemony should be seen as an un-linear ongoing process over a long period of time, where predominantly counter-hegemonic forces may at times retain some hegemonic elements. The threat of co-optation suggests that counter-hegemonic forces need to continually refine and develop clear ideas and practices in order to guard against co-optation. The thesis makes six main original contributions to knowledge. First, it brings new empirical information from the Thai case study into existing literatures on the corporate agri-food system and agrarian political economy. Second, the thesis brings new empirical information from Thailand into existing literatures on alternative agri-food and agrarian movements. Third, the research extends neo-Marxist and Gramscian theoretical perspectives in the study of the agri-food system. Fourth, the dissertation provides new perspectives as well as recent data on Thai agrarian development and social movements. Fifth, the work provides new perspectives as well as recent data on practices and discourses of Thai localism. Sixth and finally, the thesis provides a new perspective on polarised politics in Thailand. Empirical exploration of the agri-food system in Thailand supports the thesis' argument that transformative change in the agri-food system can appropriately be seen as an un-linear process over a long period of time, which challenges agri-food studies from the Marxist tradition which tend to focus on "crisis and change". Through the combined neo-Marxist and Gramscian theoretical approach, the thesis suggests the importance of counter-hegemonic struggles at ideational and material levels, and that social movements do not necessarily have to resemble stereotypical images of politicised, structured, and leftist national movements. Moreover, by providing new perspectives on Thai localism and polarised politics in Thailand, particularly how cross-class alliances can further or frustrate counter-hegemonic movements, this thesis points to the importance of analysing social movements in relation to established political authority.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor