Crafting soft power in Thailand
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 02:36 authored by Wasin Praditsilp
Despite international scholars’ pervasive research on national soft power, scant attention has been given to Thai soft power. Existing Thai research examines impact of foreign countries' soft power diplomacy toward Thai society when only one thesis in 2015 studies the Thai government’s soft power development role on Thai film industry. The government draws on intangible (processes and values) and tangible (products) cultural heritage outputs of creative industries to enhance national development and national image through its cultural export policies. This study elucidates soft power intentions incorporated in Thai cultural export and reflects on future soft power potential. The research objectives are (1 ) to identify the soft power intentions incorporated in cultural export policy; (2) to identify civic motivations of Thai stakeholders; (3) to examine the soft power dimensions of “Thainess” in cultural products and (4) to find out the future soft power potential of Thai cultural export. The study draws on the literatures of creative industries and International Communication. Thai silk industry was selected as a case study. A mixed-methods approach was adopted with in-depth interviews and Delphi technique with silk industry-related intermediate experts from government, business and civil society sectors. Fifteen intermediate experts from the government, silk-related businesses and think tanks were interviewed on soft power intentions in cultural export policy. Five Jim Thompson employees were interviewed on soft power intentions in creative industries management. Five weavers were interviewed on soft power intentions in the silk industry and products. Five foreign visitors were interviewed on views about Thai silk products. Deductively and inductively derived individual frames were reported. Nine Thai heterogenous experts forecasted cultural export’s future potential in the Delphi technique – round one was inductive. Analysis of the interviews revealed frames of virtuosity of craftsmanship and beautiful culture for national economic and image enhancement when the visitors reflected on soft power dimensions. The stakeholders’ gratefulness of their nation as a value-based civic virtue played roles in cultural export policy and practice. The Delphi technique reaffirmed the emphasis of traditional cultural products as cultural export drivers when the experts concerned its limitations on international stages and recommended that stakeholders draw on the use of pop/contemporary culture. This study is part of growing soft power research in Asia using largely untapped Thai cultural data. It will contribute to creative industries policy making, support Thai soft power operation and act as a bridge to future research on topics of creative industries and soft power for Thai and international scholarship.