Skip to main content

The role of NGOs in environmental conflict: a case study of Thailand

Prompitak, Preeyaporn (2009) The role of NGOs in environmental conflict: a case study of Thailand. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (KAR id:94588)

PDF (Optical Character Recognition (OCR) of this thesis enables read aloud functionality of the text.)
Language: English

Download (123MB) Preview
[thumbnail of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) of this thesis enables read aloud functionality of the text.]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format


Environmental conflicts over natural resources in Thailand have rapidly grown during the past few decades. A number of NGOs have played a major role in these movements, even though they have been criticised for this by the state. This thesis attempts to examine why and how NGOs have become involved in conflict over environmental development projects in Thailand, and the dynamics of the environmental movements.

Two case studies were chosen: the Pak Mun Dam (PMD) and the Keang Sue Ten Dam (KSTD). The PMD project is already operating, and its negative impacts, in particular the loss of fishery, are widely recognised, whilst the KSTD project is still awaiting the decision to go ahead, with the result that its impact upon ways of living is still hypothesised. The thesis shows that NGOs have played a role in both cases as a resource for protest movements and as actors. As a resource, they provide necessary knowledge and information for the movements. As actors, they play a role in shaping the movements, mobilising resources such as elites, and taking part in raising the cases to the level of national issues. The extent to which NGOs perform as actors varies, depending on the needs of the movements. The NGO involved in the PMD case played a role as an actor to a greater extent than the NGO working for the KSTD movement.

NGOs accessed the environmental conflict cases because their ideologies favoured the poor and the presence of political space. In addition, Wildlife Fund Thailand, a professional organisation, assisted the KSTD movement because its activities were consistent with the main aims and objectives of the organisation, focusing on natural resource conservation. Social movement organisations (SMOs) of both movements chose informal and decentralised structures with loose commitment of their members. SMOs emphasised policy change, aiming to secure redress for their grievances. The PMD-SMOs employed more radical strategies than the KSTD-SMOs, because the PMD movement experienced less open political opportunities than the KSTD movement. Resource mobilisation and the movements’ strategies were influenced by the following factors: the capacity of state policy implementation; the appearance of allies; the mass media; and repression.

The thesis shows that the Resource Mobilisation Theory and the Political Opportunity Approach can be applied to the cases of environmental movements in Thailand. The role of NGOs can be examined through the concept of SMOs. Resource mobilisation, especially securing contributions from outside the movements, is a major task of the movements of the poor in Thailand. The concept of openness and closedness of the political system can help to explain the cases in Thailand. Due to repression by the state, the villagers were able to gradually develop their capacities in political argument and movement management.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Rootes, Christopher
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2022 15:27 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2022 15:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year