Date of Degree

9-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Political Science

Advisor

Corey Robin

Committee Members

Susan Buck-Morss

Vincent Boudreau

Subject Categories

Comparative Politics | Political Economy | Political Science | Political Theory

Keywords

Monarchy, Capitalism, Thailand, Bourgeoisie, Ideology

Abstract

In the age of capitalism, monarchy has been treated as if it were an irrelevant institution. Once capitalism becomes the dominant mode of production in a state, it is argued, monarchy must be either abolished or transformed into a constitutional monarchy, a ceremonial institution that plays no significant role in a capitalist state that is ruled by the bourgeoisie. The monarchy of Thailand, however, fits neither of those two narratives, as it enjoys hegemonic status in the capitalist state, preeminent status in the market, and popular support from the urban bourgeoisie. What explains the resilience of the Thai monarchy in the face of capitalism? This dissertation argues that the Thai monarchy has been transformed into a “bourgeois monarchy,” a novel form of monarchy that is deeply embedded in the capitalist state, the market economy, and bourgeois ideology. Examining the development of this new form of the monarchy during King Rama IX’s reign (1946-2016), this dissertation reveals that, during his seven-decade reign, Thailand was rapidly transformed into a newly industrialized country and that the monarchy adapted itself to this great transformation. The crown created a symbiotic relationship with the rising bourgeoisie, engaged in capitalist development, invested royal wealth in the expanding market, and promoted bourgeois ethics in popular culture. Showing how the bourgeois monarchy in Thailand not only survives but also thrives in the age of capitalism, this dissertation sets out to revive the debate about whether monarchy is still relevant to capitalism in the twenty-first century.

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