The Influence of Uniform in Establishing Unity, Hierarchy, and Conformity at Thai Universities

Sasanun Bunyawanich, Maria-Liisa Järvelä, Abdul Ghaffar

Abstract


In most countries, wearing uniform in the university level is a rare practice. Interestingly, Thailand is one of a very few countries requiring the undergraduate students to wear the student uniform to attend class on daily basis. The university uniform has been seen to represent the ideas of politeness, honor, unity, and uniqueness of Thai culture. Hence, the practice of wearing the uniform is anchored on Thainess, the core of which is founded on kingship, religion, and nation creating a sense of shared identity among the Thai people. This research investigated (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. This is the qualitative study of which theoretical frameworks are grounded on concepts of habitus and cultural representation by Pierre Bourdieu and Stuart Hall. As the study focuses on students’ experiences, the phenomenological approach was applied. A total of eight interviews were carried out with students in Kasetsart University (Kamphaeng Saen Campus) and Nakorn Pathom Rajabhat University by purposive sampling. 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.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v6i7.3151

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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