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Social Media, Culture and Politics in Asia

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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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12. Social Media and Political Participation in Nine Asian Nations

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CHAPTER TWELVE

Social Media and Political Participation in Nine Asian Nations

Lars Willnat



Asia provides a rich environment for examining the potential effects of social media use on political participation in relatively unexplored political, social, and cultural contexts. While there is a growing number of studies that have investigated this relationship in various Asian countries (see Chapter 2), most of these studies are limited by the fact that they are based on data from one particular country. However, as we have noted earlier, potential effects of social media use are shaped— or at least influenced—by the political, cultural and social environments that dominate in each nation. A Chinese netizen who uses weibo to discuss political issues, for example, faces a very different set of challenges and possible rewards than an Indian online user who communicates about politics via Facebook. Thus, studies that analyze the relationship between social media use and political communication in one country might overstate (or understate) the significance of findings that are applicable only in a very narrow setting.

At the same time, comparing social media users in one country with those in another is problematic, as our example of Chinese and Indian online users has shown. Consequently, this book is based on a dual research approach that incorporates national and cross-national analyses. The previous nine chapters have investigated possible connections between social media use and political participation ← 241 | 242 → from national perspectives...

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