A Citizen’s Guide to Greece 2015


December 5, 2013

Social movements: political efficacy or alienation?

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Written by: pdcadmin

By Jiya Pinder

Tensions have risen in Bangkok over the past few weeks, as anti-government “yellow-shirt” protesters have sought to remove democratically elected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her cabinet.  The Protestors descended on the city center, popular TV stations, police headquarters and the government house in an effort to disrupt the capital city and overturn the government through non-violent means.

The conflict was initially sparked by an Amnesty Bill, which many thought would allow for the return of exiled former Prime Minister and business tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, who just happens to be Yingluck’s brother. Despite the failure of the Amnesty Bill political tensions continued to escalate with anti-government protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck.  To their credit, Thais have not forgotten the 2010 protests, when thousands of “red-shirt” Thaksin enthusiasts occupied and demolished central parts of Bangkok, disrupting the economy.

Humans have a natural claim for their own freedom and when restrictions occur, whether it is economic, social or religious, resistance is met. The seed of liberty has bloomed within this generation and can be evidenced through movements like Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring and the current uprising in Bangkok. People throughout the world are fighting for an opportunity for their voices to be heard and opinions known.  Protests can bring people from different walks of life together but on the other hand create harsh divides which can create social tensions. This raises the question, do social movements generate political efficacy or instead create political alienation?

Social and political movements entail divisions. Divisions in society and a divergence opinion can create more tensions. They may however influence those watching from the sideline to question long held norms, and beliefs – forcing change and compelling societies to take a step forward in a new direction.

Last Friday, Ms. Yingluck ruled out the possibility of early elections and looks toward negotiations to end the largest protests in Thailand since 2010. Calls for a “royally bestowed government” and a “council of wise people” from the anti-government protesters have been discredited and called unconstitutional by Thai academia. Hopefully, there is much mediation ahead.  Whatever the outcome in Thailand, with a bit of luck, the basic tenets of democracy will remain intact along with political freedom.

Jiya Pinder is a student at Northeastern University currently studying abroad at ACT. She intends to major in International Affairs and Pre-law. She is interested in religious studies, international politics, anthropology and history. She hopes to cultivate these interests further by pursuing a career in foreign service when he graduates.


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