Deepening democracy? A study of democracy education programs in Thailand

King, Deborah (2005). Deepening democracy? A study of democracy education programs in Thailand PhD Thesis, School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author King, Deborah
Thesis Title Deepening democracy? A study of democracy education programs in Thailand
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science and International Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2005
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Gillian Whitehouse
Total pages 278
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subjects L
360100 Political Science
Abstract/Summary The constitution enacted in 1997 in Thailand contains many provisions for the Thai people to participate in decision making processes, exercise their civil rights and hold elected and public officials accountable. However, the people most in need of these reforms have little practical knowledge of their rights and liberties under this constitution. This thesis investigates the potential of democracy programs to enhance levels of citizen participation and awareness of democratic rights, and in this sense, deepen the procedural democracy established with the constitution in Thailand. Existing democratisation literature largely takes a macro, institutional approach. There is limited academic analysis of the micro aspects of how people acquire practical knowledge about their democratic rights in a way that can be of assistance in their daily lives. This thesis elaborates some of the relatively minute aspects of democratic deepening, of which there is a paucity within existing research. The dissertation pursues these concerns by investigating questions about how democracy is taught, who is doing the educating and why. Two different democracy education programs located in Isan, the northeast of Thailand, are examined as case studies. These programs are analyzed employing criteria drawn from an analysis of the characteristics of democratic deepening. A subsidiary line of inquiry is also applied to investigate whether there is a better general approach to take in democracy education, top down or bottom up. The first case study looks at the activities of two centres under the Parliament-Social Community Collaborative Activities Centre program of King Prajadhipok’s Institute. The second case study examines two of the pilot courses of the Civic Participation in Local Governance curriculum. The research establishes the potential for democracy education programs to contribute to democratic deepening in Thailand. Nevertheless, enhancement of citizen participation and awareness of rights in a manner that is effective at personal and community levels is contingent upon a number of conditions. While the research confirms the importance of bottom up approaches to democracy education, it demonstrates that these approaches can emerge in a top down structure. Conversely, it was found that bottom up project design has the capacity for distortion. Contrary to the expectations of the research it was observed that the individual attitudes of the trainers or facilitators were as, if not more, important than project design. As well as providing another contribution to contemporary Thai studies, this research extends that part of the democratisation literature that focuses on the practical aspects of democratic deepening. It will also help inform public policy makers and debates over social capital, civil society and the appropriate boundaries of the public sphere.
Keyword Local Information Center for Development (LICD)
informal institutions

 
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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 17:02:20 EST