Thailand in the modern era: Reevaluating the emergence of civil society
Classical Western and dominant contemporary theorists attribute the emergence and persistence of civil society to democratization. However, the identification of civil societies in nondemocracies, especially in Asian countries thought to possess value systems fundamentally opposed to the implementation of Western forms of democracy, refutes the supposition that civil society and democracy are linked. This study utilizes a historical analysis of nineteenth and twentieth century Thailand to reevaluate the emergence of civil society thought by the majority of scholars to be the product of late twentieth century democratization. By discovering indigenous roots for civil society during absolute monarchy, and the expansion of civil society during nondemocratic periods in twentieth century Thailand, this study undermines the commonly accepted connection between civil society and democracy. Thus, the "Asian values" argument often employed by culturalists to deny the region of Asia alternatives to authoritarianism is rendered flawed, and political and social possibilities open.