The Media and Political Change in Southeast Asia

The Media and Political Change in Southeast Asia

Karaoke Culture and the Evolution of Personality Politics

Jonathan Woodier

Jonathan Woodier’s latest work considers what impact the media has upon the democratization process in Southeast Asia. Has the media had a liberalizing effect or become subject to elite control in Southeast Asia and, if so, why? What role does the global media play in this process, particularly given its conglomerization and commoditization? By examining the communications media and its relationship to political change in Southeast Asia, this fascinating study will endeavour to provide both a regional comparative analysis and a more balanced interpretation of the mass communication media in the wake of September 11, 2001. The book also investigates the durability of authoritarian regimes and the enduring capacity of the media-controlled state alongside the growing sophistication of political communications – particularly the use of PR consultants.

Chapter 11: Conclusion

Jonathan Woodier

Subjects: politics and public policy, international relations


As we examine, via our case study methodology, how the mass communication media has played itself out across the non-liberal states in Southeast Asia, a regional model of media development emerges. The media, in this model, exists in the close embrace of local elites who feel keenly the threat, perceived or real, of a technology that is growing in importance in information-sensitive, young states. The media, in other words, is an institution rooted in the creation of the modern post colonial state: the voice of nationalism, independence and development. The mass communication industry, in line with the argument about modernity outlined by Thompson (1995) and Giddens (1990, 1991), has become central to Southeast Asian society. In so doing, it has impacted and transformed political behaviour in Southeast Asia, and is an important resource of power and influence. Despite the ambiguity of the relationship between the media and democracy, the links between the increased flow of information and entertainment products into Southeast Asia and pressures for change in the region are apparent. Southeast Asia’s major economies have not been able to escape these pressures, particularly those driven by external influence and dominated by Western values and ideas. Consideration, then, of whether or not the media, and the globalized media in particular, has a liberalizing effect or becomes subject to elite control in Asia, and the role of the global media, particularly given its conglomerization and commoditization, is central to any discussion of political development in the region. This...

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