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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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13. Conclusion

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Conclusion

Lars Willnat & Annette Aw



Hundreds of millions of people throughout Asia use social media every day to connect with their relatives and friends—yet we know very little about how these connections influence the attitudes and behaviors of users in this region of the world (Skoric & Poor, 2013). The goal of this book is to provide a better understanding of how political, social, and cultural factors influence and shape social media effects in Asia.

Asia, now the largest continent represented on Facebook with more than 368 million users (Facebook, 2013), is characterized by diverse social, cultural, and political systems that should provide fertile ground for online participatory cultures. Young Asians in particular, who tend to be better connected online than older generations, might see social media as a new pathway to becoming more engaged in political communities. As Cohen and Kahne (2012) have noted, social media allow politically engaged citizens to reach large online communities and circumvent traditional gatekeepers such as the media or the government. In addition, social media afford citizens an opportunity for greater creativity and voice by enabling them to produce their own content using video, images, and text. The authors conclude that:

. . . participatory politics are providing young people with a level of voice and control not often seen in the realm of institutional politics. The opportunity to voice one’s opinions and believe that what one says...

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