THE EFFECTS OF SYMBOLISM ON A SOCIAL MOVEMENT: THE WANG SAPUNG GOLD MINING CONFLICT IN LOEI PROVINCE, THAILAND
Mining industries, which are involved in the extraction of minerals, have a long history in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. These industries bring profit to both the entrepreneurs and the state. However, the consequences that come with extractive industries are the potentially significant changes to the environment, economy, and society. Those changes often cause conflicts or controversies between local communities (especially near or in mining areas), private companies and among government officials. Often extractive industries catalyze violence due to the deterioration of natural resources, environmental conditions, and inequalities in the distribution of public benefits. This article focuses on the conflict within the mining industry, using a Thai case study as its main methodology, the gold mining conflict at Wang Sapung, Loei Province. In the conclusion, this paper shows that the varieties of symbolism that were created by the anti-gold mining movement could help to overcome the situation that the movement was concerned about and, in the meantime, they used those symbols to support their collective identity. This symbolism had an emotionally powerful effect on the followers of the movement and brought the movement to the attention of the public. Those conditions contributed to the anti-gold mining movement becoming a non-violent social movement.
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