Framing the colors of Thainess : the emergence of Yellow and Red Thai identities
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis explores the movement of the Yellow and Red Shirts in their early periods. Sondhi Limthongkul created the Muang Thai Rai Supda group. This was the initial group of the Yellow Shirts, while the Red Shirts was originally started as the several anti-coup groups. In a successful social movement the leaders need to ensure long lasting support, thus a large number of participants are vital to enlarge and strengthen the movements. To achieve this, framing becomes a significant tool for the leader to select and highlight effective issues and events, and frame them to resonate with their followers and bystanders. In Thai social movements, frames have been employed into many movements, particularly nationalist frames. Four nationalist symbols the king, nation, religion, and democracy/modernization metaframes have become sources of mobilizing frames which stem from these metaframes. To understand social movements in Thailand, the cases of Sondhi Limthongkul and the anti-coup groups were selected for investigation through social movement and framing theories, including the Thai metaframes concept. The questions asked by this research focus on how the metaframes and mobilizing frames of Sondhi Limthongkul and the anti-coup groups were applied, focused on, and adjusted in their early movements. In addition, the different identities which derived from framing are questioned and explored. To investigate the framing tactics the timeline of the two studied cases are divided into two phases. In each phase, the focus of frames in each group is revealed to see the differences of frames, framing tactics, and the diverse identities of Sondhi and the anti-coup groups. The results tell that the focus on the metaframes and mobilizing frames of the two groups are different. The movement of Sondhi concentrated on the king, religion, and nation metaframes, while the democracy/modernization and nation metaframes were emphasized by the anti-coup groups. The mobilizing frames that were mostly used by Sondhi were the king, Somdet Pra Sangkarat, and corruption, while the anti-coup groups concentrated on the anti-coup, anti-amat, and people’s democracy mobilizing frames. The problem definition, causal attribution, and moral evaluation functions are heavily focused on in the framing of the two groups. Notably, the two groups enhance the power of the frames by promoting them together as a package, while the culprits were blamed individually for clear and simple recognition. Another major result of this study is that the different focuses on frames bring about different identities. Sondhi Limthongkul focuses on the three nationalist symbols of the king, religion, and nation, and persuades his participants to protect these symbols. Thus, his identity is focused on being a true Thai. In contrast, the democracy symbol is emphasized the most in the framing of the anti-coup groups. They demand the restoration of democracy, the 1997 constitution, and the elected government. As a result, the democratic Thai is framed as the identity of the anticoup groups. The different identity of the two groups results from the different focus on the metaframes and mobilizing frames. Framing identity could create strong bonds between the movement and the participants and increase support. He cost of doing so was a deeply rooted sometimes violent conflict based on diverging identities.