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Rangsit Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities

ISSN 2286-976X (Print)

ISSN 2539-5513 (Online)

Change: Civil Society, Street Politics and Democracy in Contemporary Thailand



Since the French Revolution, street demonstration has symbolized a force that leads to political change. The successes of political movements that have involved public participation and demonstration, such as Salt Satyagraha in India, the March on Washington in the United States, EDSA in the Philippines, and the June Democratic Uprising in South Korea, have transformed street politics into a symbol of democracy and human rights throughout the world. In Thailand, three major street movements led to political change in the 20th century: those of 14 October 1973, 6 October 1976, and May 1992, which contributed to a stable democratic system through 2006. In the 21st century, the meaning of “civil society” has changed in many countries. While the referendum is replacing street politics in Europe, North America, and Australasia, street politics remain intact in Asian states that allow it. The Saffron Revolution in Myanmar and Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong represent democratic principles and place street politics at the core of civil society in Asia.

Even so, a change within the structure of civil society in Asia is occurring that is contributing to Thai society’s ever-changing landscape: the involvement of political parties in civil society can no longer denied. While some parties and politicians in civil societies have long existed, it is a first in Thai history for political parties to be founded and operate in civil society for political advantage. This change in social structure has attracted rival political parties to form movements through political supporters, which is related to this study that will focuses on the leadership and organization of Thai civil society since the start of this century.

Keywords: civil society, political participation, street politics, democracy, civic culture, political parties, political leadership

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Approved By TCI (2021 - 2025)

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