Frame Resonance and Failure in the Thai Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts Movements




Volpe, Michael Smollar

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Thailand has recently experienced a period of unprecedented political instability. The Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts social movements and their allies have contributed to this instability by promoting collective action frames that motivate street protests and influence peoples’ ideas and beliefs about power and democracy. Some Red and Yellow Shirts frames have succeeded in increasing recruitment and mobilization, and helped to achieved movement goals, while others have failed. Drawing upon the literature on collective action framing, and using a mixed methods approach, this study explored the impact of collective action frames, frame strategies, and Thailand’s political, cultural and historical dynamics, on movement outcomes. This study found that frames that succeeded aligned with the political and cultural opportunity structures (POS and COS) were consistent with the cultural stock, and had broad focus and appeal, while those that failed were narrow in focus and appeal, and carried messages inconsistent with the COS and POS. Furthermore, Red Shirt Frames tended to appeal across class lines, whereas Yellow Shirt and allied frames struggled to unite their traditional support base and failed to resonate across class lines. These findings help to better understand a turbulent period in Thai politics and contribute to the literature by providing a new Southeast Asian test case for frame resonance and failure and by further illuminating the critical roles of class dynamics and history in frame resonance.



Sociology, Public policy, Linguistics, Collective Action Frames, Democracy, Discourse Analysis, Red Shirts, Social Movements, Thailand