Journal of Social Sciences

Worldviews in Isan-Thai Stories

Jaruwan Thammawat, Pathom Hongsuwan and Wajuppa Tossa

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2009.370.373

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 5, 2009

Pages 370-373

Abstract

Problem statement: This study aimed to investigate two-fold: To present worldviews in Isan-Thai Stories and to explain the connections between the worldviews and their societal contexts. Approach: Following the methodology of folklore studies, both oral and written versions of Isan-Thai stories were analyzed in order to find out their structures, contents, motifs and contexts. The 76 stories which were chosen fall into five types: Legends, episodes of the Buddha’s birth stories, chakchak wongwong (principalities) tales, orphans tales and local heroes stories. The contents of these stories were separated into motifs in order to see the repetitions with other stories. Such repetitions reveal deep structure, appearing in surface structure. Then the repetitive contents were decoded and interpreted to obtain patterns of thoughts and behaviors, in line with Claude Levi-Strauss’ conviction that myths try to convey messages of human mind both universal and cultural specific. Results: As a result the study found that the worldviews in Isan-Thai Stories are of three kinds: Mythic worldview, alternative worldview and new worldview. The essentials of these worldviews show the relationships between the human and nature, the human and the human and the human and society. The thoughts presented are not unitary; they are pluralistic, even within the same story. Thus the worldviews have transformed in accordance with time, space, gender and modes of production. In the food-gathering mode, the mythic worldview emphasizes acceptance of nature’s power which could cause suffering or happiness depending on the attitudes of the humans. In the market or capitalist mode which emphasizes consumerist production, the worldview makes the humans accept money as the highest power on life. Conclusion: Thus, stories present social transformation by changing the actors as well as the methods of communication.

Copyright

© 2009 Jaruwan Thammawat, Pathom Hongsuwan and Wajuppa Tossa. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.