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Thai Social Structure

In the Thai social system, the village is the unit. It was in former days, a self-contained one in its economy and needs. The people's habits and customs were based mainly o n agriculture and religion. Most villages had a Buddhist monastery and a shrine for a village deity. The monastery served their spiritual as well as the people's education. All arts, crafts and learning emanated from the monastery. From birth till death it centred round it. Its precincts were the meeting place for social g atherings on festive occasions. As to the village shrine it was used only occasionally in times of distress or on New Year's day when offerings were made. It had nothing to do with Buddhism.

No doubt Buddhism softened and tamed animism in many of its cults. The above is only a fundamental and comparative statement which a student has to bear in mind when dealing with mod ern cultural problems. The social system, habits and customs as seen in modern times are superficial modifications of the fundamentals and in a comparative degree only.

In some outlying districts where there are retarded developments of culture due to lack of intercommunication and new ideas, the people are still in their primitive state, quite in contrast to the progress in the capital, towns and cities.

In these progressive parts "old times are changed, old manners gone" and a new type of cultures fills its place. This is a sign of progress but it must come gratdually. Adapt the old to the new but not in a revolutionary way. The new cultures have also their dangers with problems to be solved, because people take too much interest in politics. To adopt new cultures wholly unsuited to the needs which are peculiar to, and characteristic of each particular place is a danger. Culture ought to be varied with characteristics of its own in each locality and area, harmonizing, however, with the whole-a unity in diversity.

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