I am currently hard at work on my paper on local political culture in northern Thailand. One of the issues I want to consider, briefly, is the role of what might be called “rural civil society”. In particular, I am interested in the role of empowerment/advocacy organisations such as the Assembly of the Poor and the Northern Farmer’s Network. Frankly, I have often had the feeling that, in terms of the overall rural populace, these sorts of organisations have a rather modest role, despite their high national and international profile. I would be interested if any New Mandala readers had views on this. Does anyone have any information on, for example, what percentage of rural people are/were “members” (however broadly that might be defined) of such organisations. My instinct is that the percentage is very low indeed. Of course, membership numbers are not everything and there be other more appropriate indicators of the rural influence of these organisations. Suggestions would be very welcome!