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Title: A critical analysis of the themes of disability, welfare and community in the Thai documentary series Kon Kon Kon
Author: Pongpanit, Kanravee
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 6307
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2014
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The study extracts themes from ten documentary films about disabled poor individuals produced and broadcast in the television documentary series Kon Kon Kon in Thailand during 2007-2011. Recurrent themes are those focusing on individual performance and personal characteristics of resourcefulness, patience and positive attitude. These themes are argued here as demonstrating common themes of human interest stories which aim at agency empowerment or at encouraging self-change in order to gain control over structural constraints or predicaments. Such stories of personal triumphs and struggles are a main feature of media in late modernity. Late modernity is a period when human beings gain a central role and individuals are given autonomy to construct identities when those issued by traditional meta-structures such as religion, nation or gender are competing and none can hold exclusive authority any longer. However, human interest media texts represent part of a late modern contradiction: the belief in the rights of self-assertion yet the inefficient address on structural conditions conducive to the actualisation of such rights. The study then provides a commentary to the human interest stories/films about the disabled poor in Thailand. It outlines the physical and ideational conditions that contribute to poverty and social injustice experienced by a large number of people in Thailand and, in turn, to the resourcefulness and resilience of many of poor people with disabilities, such as those featured in the films. The co-evolving structural conditions relating to economic liberalism since the 1960s, the structures and politics of welfare, and socio-cultural ideologies of self-help and individualism are discussed as weaving positions and relations that the poor with disabilities are situated in. These positions and relations both influence and interact with agency and other intrinsic factors of an individual such as the nature of impairment. Thus a cultural representation of an experience of living with disability should provide an intimation of how intrinsic factors of a person with disability, such as the nature of impairment, aspirations and competence, are to a large degree influenced by and at the same time actively interact with structural forces. The account then can avoid being both overly voluntaristic and fatalistic. The former places insurmountable responsibility on an individual to do well regardless of constraints, while the latter deprives an individual of a capacity to transform or even to be reflexive of any institutionalised social relations. The thesis provides a commentary to the films, hoping to facilitate the viewing of a surface event of a heroic act of a person with disability as neither purely individualistically nor socially determined, but rather as a result of an active interaction between the social structural conditions and agency both in the past and present of her/his life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology