Land and Loyalty
Security and the Development of Property Rights in Thailand
Publication Year: 2012
Domestic and international development strategies often focus on private ownership as a crucial anchor for long-term investment; the security of property rights provides a foundation for capitalist expansion. In recent years, Thailand's policies have been hailed as a prime example of how granting formal land rights to poor farmers in low-income countries can result in economic benefits. But the country provides a puzzle: Thailand faced major security threats from colonial powers in the nineteenth century and from communism in the twentieth century, yet only in the latter case did the government respond with pro-development tactics.
In Land and Loyalty, Tomas Larsson argues that institutional underdevelopment may prove, under certain circumstances, a strategic advantage rather than a weakness and that external threats play an important role in shaping the development of property regimes. Security concerns, he find, often guide economic policy. The domestic legacies, legal and socioeconomic, resulting from state responses to the outside world shape and limit the strategies available to politicians. While Larsson's extensive archival research findings are drawn from Thai sources, he situates the experiences of Thailand in comparative perspective by contrasting them with the trajectory of property rights in Japan, Burma, and the Philippines.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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List of Figures and Tables
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At Cornell University, I benefited from the tremendous intellectual generosity of Jonas Pontusson, Ronald Herring, Peter Katzenstein, Victor Nee, and Thak Chaloemtiarana. I was also fortunate to be able to learn about the making of states, nations, and markets in seminars led by Benedict Anderson, Richard...
1. Securitization and Institutional Development
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What are the causes of economic development? Increasingly, scholars of political economy answer “institutions” in general and property rights institutions in particular. As Matthew Lange argues, “the protection of property rights is quite possibly the most basic type of social regulation necessary for market production...
2. Capitalizing Thailand
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Since the middle of the 1950s the Thai state has engaged in the formalization of land rights on a massive scale—with the area under title rising from 2.05 million hectares in 1955 to more than 20 million hectares in 2000—as part of an effort to bring economic development to rural areas.1 As is well known,...
3. Weapon of a Weak State
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In studies of economic development in East and Southeast Asia, security threats are often assigned a central role as drivers of developmental state activity (Doner, Ritchie, and Slater 2005; Stubbs 1999, 2005; Feeny 1982; Zhu 2000, 2002; Acemoglu and Robinson 2006). When World War I broke out in Europe in 1914,...
4. Conserving Smallholder Society
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While the Siamese state in the pre–World War I period favored a policy aimed at decommodifying land—or at least limiting the extent of commodification—for reasons related mainly to the protection of state sovereignty, the continuation of such a policy came to be favored also for a new reason. The rise of nationalism,...
5. Combating Specters and Communists
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Following the enactment of a Land Code in 1954, land titling expanded dramatically in Thailand. Under this reformed legal regime—which constituted a consolidation and rationalization of the existing somewhat disparate body of land law—the area under the two kinds of title deeds that provided sufficiently...
6. Old Solutions, New Challenges
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Where do “good” property rights institutions come from? Answering this question requires us to address the fundamental question of politics (Lasswell 1936): Who gets what, when, how? This book has sought to demonstrate that the interplay between processes of securitization and the contexts in which they...
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Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012