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Social Media, Culture and Politics in Asia


Edited By Lars Willnat and Annette Aw

The Internet’s explosive growth over the past decade is nowhere more visible than in Asia. Fueled by an expanding middle class, thousands of people connect to the Internet for the first time each day to explore and discuss issues that are relevant to them and their lives.
This book provides an in-depth look at the impact of social media on political engagement among young citizens in this rapidly changing region of the world. Leading media scholars from nine Asian nations focus on three main questions:
How frequently do Asians use social media to access and discuss political information?
Does the use of social media increase political participation?
What political, social and cultural factors influence the impact of social media on political engagement in each nation?
To answer these questions, contributors first analyze the current state of social media in their nations and then present the findings of a cross-national survey on social media use that was conducted with over 3,500 Asian respondents. By employing a comparative approach, they analyze how social media function and interact with the cultural and political systems in each country – and how they might affect political engagement among individual citizens.
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10. Social Media and Political Participation in Thailand


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Social Media and Political Participation in Thailand

Smith Boonchutima & Shuo Tang

The 2011 general election in Thailand was a remarkable event in the nation’s democratization. Social and political order gradually was restored in a nation that since 2006 had experienced bloody street protests, a usurped military, an abolished constitution, and short-lived civilian governments. In this landmark election, candidates from all major parties used social media to promote their campaigns and mobilize supporters. Millions of Thai citizens followed their favorite candidates on Facebook and Twitter, checked daily campaign updates, left comments, and watched political speeches on YouTube. This extensive use of social media by Thai politicians and voters was remarkable given that a year earlier, protesters clashed in the streets over the country’s political future and attacked each other relentlessly on various social media platforms. As the Internet’s political use in Thailand has changed considerably in recent years, there is new hope for those who believe social media can support democratic progress.


Thailand became linked to the Internet in 1987 and began using it for commerce in 1995 (Palasri, Huter, & Wenzel, 1999). Since then, the nation has seen a rapid increase in Internet users, thanks to improved high-speed connections, more ← 189 | 190 → affordable devices, and lower connection fees. While 1.5 million Thais had Internet access in 1999, this number swelled to more than 29 million by 2013, representing 43% of...

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