Academic journal article Southeast Asian Studies

Rural Thailand: Change and Continuity

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Studies

Rural Thailand: Change and Continuity

Article excerpt

Rural Thailand: Change and Continuity Porphant Ouyyanont Trends in Southeast Asia, No. 8. Singapore: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, 2016, 31pp.

Rural Thailand is a slim, 25-page publication in the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute's Trends in Southeast Asia series. The aim of the series is to "act as a platform for serious analyses . . . [that encourage] policy makers and scholars to contemplate the diversity and dynamism of this exciting region."

In this issue, Porphant Ouyyanont seeks to explain how and why Thailand's agricultural sector has remained such a significant player in the Thai economy, notwithstanding half a century of rapid and deep social and economic transformation. Not only does agriculture provide work for one-third of the Thai labor force and contribute significantly to national exports and output, but "rather surprisingly, village communities did not decline to the extent that one might have expected" (p. 2). In 1990 agriculture contributed 12.4 percent of GDP and 22.6 percent of exports. In 2014, almost a quarter of a century later, the respective figures were 10.4 percent and 17.8 percent. This, then, provides the context for the author to explore the "change and continuity" theme of the publication's subtitle.

Given that the paper is only a short exposition, it is inevitable that the discussion is generalized in tone and aggregate in formulation. This is a big-picture description of agrarian change in Thailand over the modernization period, one where ethnographic or regional detail is eschewed in the interests of marking out a wider case. …

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