University of Oulu

The significance of uniform in establishing unity, hierarchy and conformity at Thai universities

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Author: Bunyawanich, Sasanun1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
Pages: 67
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : S. Bunyawanich, 2017
Publish Date: 2017-05-08
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Järvelä, Maria-Liisa
Reviewer: Järvelä, Maria-Liisa
Sääskilahti, Minna
The practice of wearing uniforms in Thai universities was implemented in the reign of King Rama V for Chulalongkorn University, the first university of Thailand. Later on the majority of universities in Thailand have adopted this practice because it has been seen to represent the ideas of politeness, honor, unity, and uniqueness of Thai culture. Hence, the practice of wear-ing the uniform is anchored on Thainess, the core of which is founded on kinship, religion, and nation creating a sense of shared identity among the Thai people. This research aims to investigate (1) students’ experiences of wearing the uniform concerning power relation among Thai university students inside and outside their universities, and (2) students’ experiences regarding their personal development and how the university dress code affects them. The theoretical framework is grounded on concepts of habitus and cultural representation by Pierre Bourdieu and Stuart Hall respectively. Since the study focuses on students’ experiences, the phenomenological approach was considered suitable. A total of eight interviews were carried out with students in Kasetsart University (Kamphaeng Saen Campus) and Nakorn Pathom Rajabhat Universities by purposive sampling. The interviews were translated from Thai to English. Data analysis was conducted with thematic content analysis. The research findings reveal experiences of the strict dress code indicating that the uniform engages with symbolic communication and hierarchical empowerment. Wearing the uniform keeps up the illusion of uniformity while exerting suppression of individuality. Further the strict dress code creates problematic gender issues but does not promote students’ life goals. The aim of this study is to encourage the dialogue on the necessity of wearing university uniforms in Thailand. The findings of the study can be used as relevant material for policy makers to consider the issues related to the strictness of the dress code and its connection to power relations and personal development. A large scale survey on the role and significance of wearing the uniform at Thai universities could be conducted to acquire more evidence by engaging a greater number of related parties in research such as lecturers, parents, and policy makers.
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