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The Village Fund Project and Changes in the Dynamics of Local Power in Rural Thailand

Preeyanon, Antika (2007) The Village Fund Project and Changes in the Dynamics of Local Power in Rural Thailand. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis examines one of the flagship 'populist' programmes of the 2001~06 Thaksin Shinawatra government in Thailand. The Village Fund Project (VFP) channeled funds of one- .million baht to every village and urban community in Thailand, -was intended as a form -of micro-credit to stimulate local economic activity. Drawing upon extensive participant observation research in two villages - one in Lopburi, another in Krabi ~ the thesis examines the impact of the programme on local dynamics of political power. The thesis demonstrates that the VFP largely failed in its own terms: the project had rather disappointing results as a means of promoting local economic development. Most of the benefits from the projects were monopolized by a small group of elite villagers. Some of these villagers served as the phuak, vote canvassers or vote base for local, provincial and national politicians, who gained additional benefits from the scheme. The work of the village-level committees set up to administer the projects was usually problematic and lacking in transparency. Nevertheless, in certain respects the VFP - especially when seen in conjunction with an earlier scheme, The Saving for Producing Project (SPP) :- could be considered somewhat successfuL One of the probably unintended consequences of the VFP was the extent to which it increased local scrutiny of village elites, forcing them to broaden their alliances and engage in forms of cooptation and consultation. Community leaders who performed well as members of VFP committees were then well-placed to stand for other kinds of electoral office, while those whose performance was widely questioned had more difficulty securing subsequent election. Leaders were therefore forced to become more responsive to the needs of villagers. The thesis demonstrates that evaluating the success of initiatives made by the Thaksin government is fraught with difficulties, and illustrates the value of using 'ethnographic' style case studies to examine micro-level political change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.487381
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2018 12:42
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2018 12:42
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21100

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