Thursday, February 15, 2007

Governance versus Democracy: Elite/Middle Class Social Movements in the Philippines and Thailand

TWSC 30th Anniversary Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

23 January 2007, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
CSSP Audio Visual Room
Room 207 Palma Hall
University of the Philippines-Diliman

In both the Philippines and Thailand, social movements enjoying strong elite and middle class support and participation overthrew unpopular authoritarian regimes in "people power-style" insurrections. More recently, in EDSA II, these same middle forces were instrumental in toppling an elected president in the Philippines with military support. In Thailand, similar middle forces failed to unseat a government through demonstrations but last year, supported a military coup. Why have these upper and middle class groups turned against "their own democracies"? In this presentation, it will be argued that these "middle forces" only supported democracy as long as they saw it serving their self-proclaimed aims of "good governance." But when populist leaders seen as a threat to these forces won elections, they turned against democratic rule. The current crisis of Philippine governance suggests that middle force insurrectionism in the name of good governance provides no long term solution to political instability, however.


The Third World Studies Center Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South interrogates the relations of contention and collective action to democracy in contemporary history. It focuses especially on movements in the South, using a variety of cases of recent national and cross-border mobilization and protest. The series will address the following questions:Are social movements in the South agents of democratization? How do social movements contribute to (or hinder) the democratization process in various spheres (local, regional, and transnational)? How do deepening interstate relations affect social movement politics? What role do Southern social movements play in the wider global political arena? Are social movements in the South always engaged in contentious politics? How do they interact within the boundaries of institutional politics? Given the present historical conjuncture, what lies ahead for social movements in the South?

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