Elle, K. (2008) The networking of transnational social movements : The case of compulsory licensing in Thailand

Title: The networking of transnational social movements : The case of compulsory licensing in Thailand
Author: Kal Elle
Year: 2008
Keywords: Social movements, Compulsory licensing of patents, Thailand
Thai thesis available here.
Abstract: CL offers a viable means to address the access to essential medicine problem. Transnational social movements, in turn, legitimize this method. The CL campaign and the networking of transnational social movement worked in conjunction to present an alternative to pharmaceutical market order. This research evaluates the success of the transnational social movement after Thailand’s issuance of Compulsory Licensing (CL) in Nov 2006. By assessing the characteristics, reasons, and nature of the movement, this work aims to determine its sustainability for future CL movements. Research findings illustrate that the networking of transnational social movements proved necessary, if not crucial, to the success of the Thai CL campaign. This research assesses the success of the transnational social movement and its theoretical implications. Four major features describe the transnational social movements: 1) Involvement of heterogeneous actors; 2) strategic division of labor; 3) responsiveness to counter-CL pressure; and 4) continuation of the CL campaign. These features determined the achievements of the social movements. This study applied the “Triangle that Moves Mountain” framework to illustrate the characteristics of the transnational social movements. First, different networks formulated a comprehensive knowledge base to provide informational support against pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists. Secondly, different networks provided the impetus for social mobilization in support of the Thai CL issue. Lastly, this issue required global engagement from individuals, national government, governments of other nations, and international organizations. The transnational social movement exhibited four vital characteristics of social movements. First, it targeted pharmaceutical companies’ priorities, consisted of loosely defined informal networks, and fostered collective identities. In addition, the social movement linked the Thai CL campaign to the broader neo-liberal master frame. The CL campaign was characteristic of a social movement in the sense that it made distinct challenges to US hegemony and pharmaceutical dominance under the guise of the free market. Finally, this research looks at the sustainability of the transnational social movement. Given the successful networking of globalized actors, transnational social movement can continue to play a vital role in future compulsory licensing movements, if they are able to replicate the global legitimacy achieved in the Thai CL case.

Contact MAIDS-Chula for more information and full thesis at maidschula@gmail.com

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