Global culture, local cultures, and the Internet: the Thai example
This paper addresses the questions of whether, and if so, how
and to what extent the Internet brings about homogenization of the local
cultures in the world. It examines a particular case, that of Thai culture,
through an investigation and interpretation of a Usenet newsgroup,
soc.culture.thai. Two threads of discussion in the newsgroup are selected.
One deals with criticisms of the Thai government and political leaders,
and the other focuses on whether Thai language should be a medium, or
perhaps the only medium, of communication in the newsgroup. It is found
that, instead of erasing local cultural boundaries, creating a worldwide
monolithic culture, the Internet reduplicates the existing cultural
boundaries. What the Internet does, on the contrary, is to create an umbrella
cosmopolitan culture which is necessary for communication among
people from disparate cultures. That culture, however, is devoid of "thick"
backgrounds, in Michael Walzer's sense.