It would be too crude simply to follow the preceding chapter’s critique of dis-embedded migrant labour markets with a discussion of market arrangements demonstrating the reverse characteristics of market bonding as opposed to the forces of dis-embedding. Instead, this chapter will explore examples of eco-tourism which reveal Polanyi’s interest in economy as part of society. The essential economic priority behind dis-embedded market economies, as we revealed in chapter 3, has market forces no longer necessarily serving prevailing social needs, but rather imposing on society market conditions of wealth creation in preference to broader and more long-lasting supports for social bonding. In the previous chapter we established this imposition as both unsustainable in terms of the particular market economy in question, as well as the society on which it, in varying degrees, depends. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate how market arrangements for the promotion of eco-tourism in Northern Thailand are preserving traditional communities and indigenous wildlife, which without the tourist dollar, may now be unsustainable in their customary forms. In these examples there is a synergy between wealth-creating markets and integrated communities, in particular working elephants and the sensitive commercialization of traditional tribal lifestyles. This chapter will discuss the manner in which communities and elephants have a shared salvation through the generation of a tourist market.
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