Is Thai culture at risk of western influence?

A Thai teenager takes his one month old baby to a monk for her hair to be shaved for the “fire hair” ceremony.

This is a frequent question that popped up in forums and discussion groups. I have no qualifications on humanity and anthropology to comment scientifically on this issue but I am forming my opinions, rightly or otherwise, based on my experience traveling around some of the countries in Asia and also from my leisure readings.

Thailand, like Korea and Japan is a monolithic country with a single major race, culture and religion. Except for the population in the 4 states in the South, minority races especially the Chinese in Thailand assimilated very well in Thai society and culture. Unlike Malaysia and Singapore where there are NO national culture per se, the Thais holds dearly to their culture, language and race.

I am of the opinion that the Thai culture will survive till eternity based on Korea and Japan as example. Both countries have been under western, primarily US influence for so long and yet able to hold on to their culture and language. These countries are also monolithic societies where the influence of the society structure and hierarchy are deeply rooted. It would be difficult for the younger generation to tear down the society structure save a revolution.

I would like to mention that even though mainland China is also roughly a monolithic society, however, much damaged was done under the Cultural Revolution, resulting in the Chinese culture being dismantled. A generation or two have also been brainwashed with communism. The damaged is permanent.

I think education will be the key to preserving the Thai Culture and the teachers will be the champion to this noble task.

3 responses to “Is Thai culture at risk of western influence?

  1. Kitjar- There is a very intresting book called “Jihad vs McWorld” by Benjerman Becker ( I think I have his name right) that I think you may find an intresting read. It was published in 1994 and recently he has authored a follow up. Quite well researched and thoughtfull.

    I personally think everyone is in danger of becoming mere “consumers” due to the insideous reach of mass media and multi national corporations. That said, the small Lao and Thai community I interact with here in the US are doing a pretty good job of showing an outstanding alternative and I hope your right in your assesment.

  2. Duh – Sorry KhunChin, I think its my bed time.

  3. Having lived in Japan for a few years in the early 90’s, I recently went back this year and I could see a noticeable change, in the culture.
    I think change to all Asian cultures is becoming westernized, just the monolithic cultures are a little slower at change than others, but eventually, they will all change over a few more generations.