Harmonizing Culture, Society, and Commerce

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This qualitative investigation examines the cultural identity of a small silversmith community in Northern Thailand and explores the role of participatory tourism management in maintaining traditional arts and culture in the area. Data was collected from documentary analysis and field study, including interviews and discussions with ninety-eight individuals (temple abbots, community leaders, craftspeople, residents, and tourists). The study’s findings suggest that the community walking street, a pedestrianized market, is experiencing a decline in its sense of local identity. This phenomenon appears to be caused by multiple factors, including a decrease in the transmission of traditional artisanal practices, the growing influence of commercial interests, a lack of active participation by community members, and a disconnection from other aspects of the local culture. Research respondents proposed the creation of a seasonal offshoot to the walking market. This new addition was community-led and showcased silversmithing culture, as well as other, less traditionally celebrated elements of local society. The research concludes that the newly established Muen San cultural road can generate cultural and social value for the walking street, provide an impetus for cultural conservation, and reinvigorate the customs of the Muen San Community. It is hoped that these new elements can combine with the existing commercial activities and lead to a more sustainable approach to cultural preservation.