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Lang Ban (หลังบ้าน):

Redefining the Political Sphere in Thai Politics

Katja Rangsivek
Research Question
What is the meaning and political
function of lang ban?

• How do kinship networks operate in Thai


politics?
• How are the special construction of politics
gendered?
• What does this imply on our perception of
public and private sphere?
• What implications does that have on the way
we understand political power and influence?
Methods
1. Interviews: 83 persons were interviewed during
February to August 2010, amongst them MP’s, ministers,
their relatives and spouses.

2. Archival research: funeral volumes and newspaper


coverage of politicians and their relatives were collected
and analyzed.

3. Social Network Analysis (SNA): data gained from 1.


and 2. were analysed to identify the structural position of
women within network.
Parliament a Male Space?

Women and men have


gained equal suffrage in
1932

Women have not been


represented until 1948

Women have to pass social


economic, institutional and
cultural barriers the enter
the parliament (as MP)
Percentage of Male and
Female MP’s in the Thai
The parliament is in many
parliament 1932-2007
aspects a male place
Source: United Nations Development
Program. 2006. Women’s Right to a Political
Voice in Thailand: Millennium Development
Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and
Empower Women. Bangkok: United Nations
Development Program.
Lang Ban (หลังบ้าน)
Lang Ban literally means ‘the back of the house’ but it is also used to
refer to politicians’ wives

“Lang Ban is the politician’s wife


”The politician’s wife is called who is supporting his career.
lang ban because in the back When it is in a positive way than
of the traditional Thai house is she will take over all family
the kitchen and that is where responsibilities and maybe help
the women are.” in the election campaign. When
MP from Nakhon Ratchasima Province it is in the bad way then she is
receiving bribes for her husband
and that is dangerous for him.”
MP from Sukhothai Province
Poltical Space in Thailand
Degendering Lang Ban?
“I don’t have a wife. My Lang
Lang Ban is not limited to Ban are my parents.”
women MP from Ayutthaya Province

Men have taken over the ”I don’t need a Lang Ban. I


Lang Ban position use facebook instead”
MP from Province
After the ratification of the
2007 constitution 251 men ”My wife does not involve in
were forced to take over the politics. I have paid staff and a
Lang Ban while some of their party branch that can do it”
wives entered formal politics MP from Surat Thani Province
Conclusion

• Lang ban is a person working parallel with the


politician within the informal and private part of
politics.
• Lang ban is not monopolised by women but tends
to be associated with them.
• The political sphere consists of parts of the public
and the private sphere.
• What to do with political power and influence?

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