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Constructing Thailand: Regulation, Everyday Resistance, and Citizenship

  • Peter Vandergeest (a1)

Extract

Studies of what we call modern societies frequently take one of two major perspectives. The first emphasizes an ever-increasing constraining or regulatory power (Weber's iron cage [1976], or Foucault's discipline and regulation [1979, 1980]). The second tradition seems to contradict the first by emphasizing trends, such as a “democratic revolution” (de Tocqueville 1969:702–5; Laclau and Mouffe 1985:152) or the extension of citizenship rights (Marshall 1973; Bendix 1977). In this essay I argue that the twin processes of increasing regulation on one hand, and institutionalization of individual rights on the other, are closely linked. I make this argument by interpreting the transformation of relations between the state and peasants in Siam (Thailand) during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and through an assessment of two books which have been particularly influential in comparative studies during the 1980s: James Scott's Weapons of the Weak (1985) and Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities (1983).

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Constructing Thailand: Regulation, Everyday Resistance, and Citizenship

  • Peter Vandergeest (a1)

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