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Title: From City of Angels to a 'city in flux' : (anti)planning a middle-class Bangkok in a Thai-style democracy
Author: Lattanan, P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 2454
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This dissertation contributes to existing literature on Southeast Asian middle classes, especially those interrogating the relationship between the rise of a new middle class and a specific form of capitalist urbanisation. This link, at least in the context of the Southeast Asian city, is not straightforward. While the economic boom in Southeast Asia from the late 1980s through to the mid-1990s fuelled the expansion of the middle class in parallel with the economic globalisation of several cities, the 1997 financial crisis challenged any related aspirations through a cycle of social, economic and political instability that have come to characterise the region. Amidst a complex political process of democratic change, and economic policies torn between global neoliberalism and welfare-oriented populism, a vagrant political standpoint parallels the rise of the new middle class, raising questions about their ability to act as influential agents of change, especially when it comes to planning a long-term urban agenda, neoliberal or otherwise. This is particularly evident in Bangkok, which in many ways has come to challenge our understandings of a quintessential Southeast Asian city, and whose political instability since the beginning of the twenty-first century has polarised the politics of the city's middle classes. Based on empirical research in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region focussing on planning policies around two urban infrastructure projects (SkyTrain and the 2011 floods), this thesis investigates middle class discourses that emerged in response to these efforts. Compounded by a specific form of Thai-style democracy, any effort made by the state-led planning machine to realise elements of bourgeois urbanism does not find unequivocal endorsement from the city's middle classes, as it reveals a strong ideological rupture between the lower and upper middle classes. As this thesis finds, this polarisation is due not just to the inherent heterogeneity of the middle classes as an inchoate social category, but one that is fuelled by the context of unstable democratic politics, highlighting not only the futility of a middle-class embedded planning process, but also the failure to take into account the localised specificity of divergent middle class reasoning.
Supervisor: Arabindoo, P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available