Examining Agency in Thai Argumentative Political Science Texts
This chapter explores the representation of agency in two Thai argumentative political science texts on the 2006 military coup d’état. It draws on Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) to ascertain how writers of two texts written shortly after the coup (Khien in Thai World, 2006; Pitch in Faa Diaw Kan—Same Sky, 2007) construe agency or the lack of agency in the exercise and contestation of power. Specifically, this chapter explores the system of TRANSITIVITY and the complementary systems of AGENCY and PROCESS TYPE. The degree of agency or dynamism is compared across texts by plotting the realisations of participant roles on a “cline of dynamism” (Hasan, 1985). Identifying patterns of processes and participant roles in terms of whether the process extends from one participant to another participant (transitivity) or whether the process is actualised through a Medium which may or may not be impacted by an external causer (ergativity) provides insights into the construal of agency in the texts and the manner in which some actors, events or ideas are valorised over others. The chapter argues that the two writers attribute agency to social actors to convey their position on the legitimacy of staging the coup and associated events. Their choices offer insights into the existence of unequal relations of power in a highly contested political context .
KeywordsArgumentative texts Transitivity Agency Politics Power Thailand
The author would like to thank Ajarn Chintana Sandilands, Mrs Rachada Koh and Ms Nansiri Iamsuk for their assistance with the translation of the Thai texts.
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