Social Media-Based Far Right Movements in Thailand

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Wolfram SCHAFFAR, University of Vienna, Austria
Naruemon THABCHUMPON, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Since late 2013, the split in Thai society between two contesting camps - the Red Shirts and the Yellow Shirts - has been radicalising and culminated in the coup d'état in May 2014. During the recent events, far right groups have started to play a crucial role in the political protests on the streets leading up to the coup as well as after the coup.

One prominent example is the Rubbish Collection Organisation - a facebook-based group, which is performing witch-hunts against people they whom consider illoyal to the Monarchy. Numerous loosely or non-organised individuals have joined this facebook group, and some of its mobbing and bullying postings reach over 200,000 likes. This virtual violence sometimes leads to actual physical violence.

The paper addresses theoretical and methodological questions in researching internet-based far right movements in Thailand. Given the global rise of far right groups - Shiv Sena in India, Hungarian Guards and the Golden Dawn in Europe - it is necessary to analyse Thai groups in a global context. Against this background, however, historic and post-colonial considerations become relevant: In how far can established political theories drawing on radical right-wing groups in Europe of the 1930s (such as the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in Italy or the Heimwehr in Austria) be used to analyse such groups in Thailand today?

Moreover, social movement research has concentrated on New Social Movements, which were the predominant non‑state forces in the Western world from the late 1960s on. Only recently the research programme of Contentious Politics was developed to move beyond the narrow focus of social movement research and envisage a longer time span as well as a broader political spectrum of political actors. It will be discussed in how far this paradigm can be used to capture new internet-based violent groups in Thailand.