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Title: More Performing, Less Protesting: Exploring the Mediated Political Engagement of Thai Middle Classes
Authors: Supapong, Jantiga
Supervisors: Vicari, Stefania
Karatzogianni, Athina
Award date: 17-Nov-2017
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This study explores the mediated political engagement of middle classes in Thailand. Using an ethnographic approach that includes interviews, participant observation and digital ethnography, the study explores the ways in which Thai people used social media to reinforce class divides. The three middle classes – upper-, middle- and lower-middle classes – used their social class disposition as a base in expressing their views on politics. Lifestyle as a form of political identity allowed upper-middle-class and elite people to distance themselves from other middle-class groups, while low-income groups who supported Thaksin used a variety of strategies, including the grass-roots revolution, inequality discourse and social mobilisation. The upper-middle class used social media to display aspirational qualities in legitimising their political opinion. On the other hand, the middle- and lower-middle class used social media to discuss their political opinions with similar-minded friends as a part of their sociality. Similar to the findings of scholars such as Fenton and Barassi (2011) and Grömping (2014), this thesis argues that social media form echo chambers and rarely facilitate dialogue and deliberation. Social media also enhance unconventional political participation, which leads to symbolic action and lifestyle politics more than conventional political participation. This study also argues that class analysis is important in media studies of Thailand, where social practice is still strongly framed by social class and social culture. Finally, traditional Thai sociocultural norm such as Kreng jai inevitably creates different social media mediated practice. This conclusion supports to the argument that social and cultural frame impact how Thai middle class consume and are mediated around social media.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Leicester Theses
Theses, Dept. of Media and Communication

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