Sunday, May 23, 2010

Urbanization and Urbanism in Thailand

By Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wichai Srikam
Faculty of Arts
Sipakorn University

Urbanization is a complex process of social and economic change whereby a society is transformed from an essentially rural to a predominantly urban one. While “urbanization” has to do with metropolitan growth, urbanism is often seen as one of the consequences of urbanization.
The purpose of this study is to examine the process of urbanization and urbanism in Thailand. It is found that during the Sukothai period all the settlements including Sukothai, the capital city, were characterized as rural areas which their people engaged in agriculture. During the Ayuttaya period, only one city which began to form urbanization gradually was Ayuttaya, the capital city at that time. During the Bangkok period, in 1967 only Bangkok was the only real city. By 1981, Bangkok Metropolis was 50 times larger than Chiangmai. At present (2003), Bangkok is only 22 times larger than Nontaburee, the second largest city of Thailand. This indicates that people in Bangkok moved out to reside in adjacent cities, such as Nontaburee. In 2000 out of the ten biggest cities in Thailand one city (Chiangmai) is in the North Region, 4 cities (Nakornratchaseema, Udontanee , Kongan, Ubonratchatanee) in the Northeast Region, 3 cities (Bangkok, Nontaburee, Parkgret) in the Central Region, and 2 cities (Hardyai and Surattanee) in the South Region.
With regard to urbanism, since cities produce a characteristic way of life known as “urbanism,” the larger cities in Thailand have become more urban cultures than the smaller ones. Secondary and tertiary economic activities, such as industry, commerce, and services are major factors influencing the increase in the degree of urbanization and urbanism. For example, Bangkok is one of the most dynamic and most Chaotic cities in Thailand. While crowding, traffic congestion, and pollution grow ever worse, the city is an economic, educational, and cultural, and transportation magnet not only for Thais, but for other people in the world. Thus, Bangkok and big cities in Thailand are culturally heterogeneous, and socially diverse because of increasing degrees of urbanization.

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