Identity and Cultural Policy

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This is a qualitative investigation examining the changing role of culture in Thailand’s development policies of the last sixty years. This investigation aimed to be the first to study and analyze the cultural policies that appear under the National Economic and Social Development Plans of Thailand in order to show the connection between the cultural content, related strategies, and consequences of cultural policy. Primary and secondary documents were studied to analyze the focus on cultural initiatives within government policy and identify patterns of development over time. The research team used content and discourse analysis methods to examine the social context and construction of identity through cultural policies by the Thai national government. The results found that initial excursions into cultural policy were purely on the terms of the early state-builders, as they sought to unify and harmonize the nation. From these early examples of statism, the government then became more actively involved in cultural homogenization as they included multiculturalism as a particular focus during the 1980s. Most recently, culture has been used to boost the economy and react to globalizing influences within Thai society.