Publicness and Taken-for-granted Knowledge: A Case Study of Communal Land Formation in Rural Thailand
The lack of public-mindedness can cause problems in the social order of people’s daily lives, such as the tragedy of the commons and the problem of free riders. Some scholars such as Habermas assert that communicative rationality is the solution, expecting that individuals will communicate with each other to reach a consensus without being bounded by aspects of social background. Other scholars advocate the revitalization of traditional community culture. These arguments, however, are not based on reality. By using the case of communal land formation in rural Thailand, the author shows that collective action is neither a revival of tradition nor a result of communication free from social constraints. Rather, cooperation emerges because the people rationally respond to their present needs and have built, through daily social interactions, taken-for-granted knowledge about how they should behave for cooperation.
Keywords: local organization, rural development, Thailand, public sphere, community forest, communal land
JEL classification: O18, Q15, Q23, Z13
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