SILPAKORN UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, HUMANITIES, AND ARTS, Vol 13, No 1 (2013)

Does Social Capital Work in Thai Politics?

Wanlapat Suksawas, Peter Mayer






Abstract


The study employed Robert D. Putnam’s concept of social capital to study Thai politics. It had three main objectives: to investigate the capacity of social capital in Thai society to increase people’s political participation in local government, to examine whether social capital improves the institutional performance of local government, and to explore both the impact of people’s political participation in local government on the institutional performance of local governments, and the impact of institutional performance on people’s political participation, in the north of Thailand. There were three main findings in which emerged from the research. Firstly, it was found that social capital does not promote people’s participation in local politics. Secondly, it was evident that not all components of social capital can enhance the institutional performance of local government. Networks of civic engagement and generalized trust fail to increase the effective institutional performance of local government. Lastly, it was discovered that political participation by citizens and institutional performance has no positive effect on each other. It can be concluded that Putnam’s concept of social capital shows clear limitations and cannot be employed effectively in the context of Thai politics.

Key Words: Social Capital; Political Participation; Thai politics; Local
Government

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