Author: Charles Erize P. Ladia
Thai Youth in Protest: Transnational Inspiration and Local Adaptation in the Repertoires of Contention of the 2020 Bangkok Youth-led Democratization Movement
The leadership of young Thais in the recent Bangkok democratization movement questioning political authorities and traditions makes this cycle of contention different from previous mobilizations. Although Thailand has witnessed multiple shifts in political leadership and ideologies, this movement, with the youth as its leaders, expertise on social media activism, and networks with global democratization movements introduced a new face of social movement in Thai politics.
This paper explores how the repertoires of contention strategized by the Bangkok youth-led movement manifested transnational inspirations and local adaptations in asserting their advocacy against traditions and toward democracy. The presence of a horizontal communication network, similarities of youth composition, and threats to democratic values ushered transnational linkages from Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement to Bangkok. Repertoires such as the “be like water” philosophy, verbal and nonverbal signals, and dependence on social media for their leaderless and multisited actions were learned and appropriated by Thai activists in their actions. Although transnational activism inspires their repertoires, the movement also strategized these with respect to domestic politics. Their actions were informed by the long tradition of protests in Thailand, their knowledge of social media and popular culture, and their interaction with the red- and yellow-shirt movements and policing authorities.
The result was a mix of repertoires influenced by transnational democratization movements but also nuanced to its domestic contexts. This active political engagement of young Thais and their resourcefulness and resilience in designing repertoires envision a new generation of activists—leaderless, social media–driven, multiplatformed, locally rooted, and globally networked.
Ladia, Charles Erize P. 2022. “Thai Youth in Protest: Transnational Inspiration and Local Adaptation in the Repertoires of Contention of the 2020 Bangkok Youth-led Democratization Movement.” Philippine Journal for Public Policy: Interdisciplinary Development Perspectives, 2022: 105–137. doi.org/10.54096/ZNOV6892
Ladia, C. P. 2022. (2022). Thai youth in protest: Transnational inspiration and local adaptation in the repertoires of contention of the 2020 Bangkok youth-led democratization movement. Philippine Journal for Public Policy: Interdisciplinary Development Perspectives, 2022: 105–137. doi: doi.org/10.54096/ZNOV6892