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Frames, Blunders, Vulnerabilities, Polarization, and Facebook: The Struggle of the Anti-Mae Wong Dam Movement in Thailand Open Access

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This thesis investigates how an anti-dam movement that had minimal support from local people was successful in attracting a multitude of support from different sectors in Thai society to pressure the government to reconsider the dam’s construction. It argues that the adoption of several frames that resonate with the interests of different groups of people and a reliance of social media allowed the anti-dam movement to appeal to a broad swath of Thai society, many of whom had dramatically different goals in joining the movement. This, as well as the blunders and vulnerabilities of the government, resulted in the movement successfully pressing the government to reconsider the dam construction project. However, the multifariousness of the movement and the use of social media for mobilization allowed some actors to propagate their own political agenda and shift the attention of the movement’s participants to other issues, leading to the downfall of the movement. This thesis adds to the understanding of collective action frames in that the effectiveness of frames is determined not only by their relevance to people’s concerns but also by the movement’s strategies and its means of communication. At the same time, blunders and vulnerabilities could also serve as a bridge linking groups that may not share the same goal. Most importantly, this thesis argues against the recent scholarship on the relationship between social media and social movements that mostly highlights the positive impacts of social media on collective actions. While the use of social media for mobilization can allow a movement to succeed, over-reliance on social media for mobilization can lead to the downfall of the movement as well.

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