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Bhuchongkul, Ananya (1984) From Chaona to Khon-Ngaan: The growing divide in a central Thai village. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00029194

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Abstract

This thesis is an attempt to focus on the process by which a village society in Central Thailand, once predominated by chaonaa (peasants), has been transformed into one in which a large number of villagers are now khon-ngaan (wage-labourers). To comprehend this it is necessary to set it against the wider context of the particular path of development taken by Thailand as a whole, with emphasis on the roles of the agricultural sector and the state. Fieldwork was conducted in Theparaj village, Chachoengsao province. The village was established in the 1880s after Thailand had become integrated into the world economy. The early years of settlement witnessed the abolition of "slave" labour and the replacement of the traditional rights over persons with property rights over land as well as the increasing presence of the state in rural areas. In the ensuing years, up until about 1960, agricultural growth was based on the incorporation of new land into production with little change in technology and small peasant production predominated. In the finance and distribution of rice, merchants and moneylenders featured dominantly, profiting as a result of the peasants' growing indebtedness. The agrarian basis of production was greatly transformed from the 1960s onwards when more branches of capital began to enter agriculture on an increasing scale, with the aid of the state's policy to promote industrial investment. The agro-business of modern capital-intensive poultry-farming was introduced into the village while at about the same time, rice production also became more intensified with the adoption of double-cropping and the various ingredients of the "green revolution". The village economy has thus become more tightly linked than ever before into the international economic system with the dominating presence of multinational corporations. This has created new areas of accumulation in the village. A handful of merchants and moneylenders have turned themselves into capitalist poultry-farmers who operate with the use of wage labour. A few rice-farmers have also entered into the new business but on a much smaller scale and most need to form dependent ties with the larger poultry-farms. Rice-farmers have generally prospered after the adoption of double-cropping. The relatively better-off have benefited from the state's programmes of subsidy while the poorer farmers continue to rely on local merchants and moneylenders. The use of wage labour in rice-farming is now also predominant and exchange labour has disappeared. Although the majority of the village population are better off materially in absolute terms, benefits of recent developments have been disproportionately concentrated among the highly capital-intensive enterprises, particularly the larger pou1try-farms and to a lesser extent among the other already well-off households, and this has significantly increased income and wealth disparities in the village. Concommittantly, the very wealthy poultry-farmers (ex-merchants, moneylenders or millers who hitherto had remained largely outside the village political arena) have now asserted themselves politically and assumed a position of leadership within the village.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00029194
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:08
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/29194

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