Community Economies in the Context of Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Approach - A Positioning Theory Analysis

21 Pages Posted: 1 May 2019

Date Written: January 30, 2019


This paper discusses the Inpaeng Network, an alternative farmers' organization in Northeastern Thailand, and its cooperative ventures with state institutions. The primary aim is to show how by drawing on state development discourse participants in community economies can make use of government assistance and resources for their projects. Drawing on data collected in January 2012 in Northeastern Thailand and based on Gibson-Graham's work (2006) I will first show how Inpaeng activities reflect ethical decisions about covering economic needs, the distribution of surplus, consumption, and the management of local commons.

Thailand's "Sufficiency Economy" development strategy since the late 1990s officially recognizes these practices, which are based on traditional knowledge and integrated farming. This shift in development thinking has led to a repositioning of rural agriculture-based communities and has provided a foundation for successful collaborations between Inpaeng and public organizations. Applying positioning theory analysis I will show that each collective actor has a distinct understanding of Sufficiency Economy, and that consequently they pursue different but complementary objectives. In positioning theory terms, the meaning of social practices cannot be determined independently of actors involved; the Sufficiency Economy discourse is consequently embedded in each actor's own "storyline". This understanding not only helps to explain partnerships between Inpaeng and public institutions, but also points towards possibilities for communities' strategic use of storylines in other contexts.

Keywords: Positioning Theory; Diverse Economies; CBOs; Thailand

Suggested Citation

Rado, Istvan, Community Economies in the Context of Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Approach - A Positioning Theory Analysis (January 30, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Istvan Rado (Contact Author)

School of Global Studies ( email )

Bangkok, 10200

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