Radio in a transitional society: the case of modern Thailand.
2009-02-12T12:44:14Z (GMT) by
The thesis, Radio in a Transitional Society: The Case of Modern Thailand, is an exploratory study of radio in its total context. In arguing that it is the structure and process of the system of production, distribution and consumption of the media that reproduce social stratification and political legitimation we undertake four major areas of investigation; the structure of ownership and control of the Thai radio system which basically constrained the range and formats of output in this arena, the dynamics of the media institutions and cultural industries within which entrepreneurs and professionals struggle to achieve organisation goals and their 'relative autonomy', the forms of representation - the 'serious genres' of news and current affairs and official commentaries and religious programmes, and the 'popular genres' of drama and music - through which ideological reproduction and contestation are played out, and lastly the active audience whom the state and the cultural industries must constantly negotiate for social integration and to fulfil their commercial goals. The study shows that the role of radio in cultural and social reproduction is highly complicated and contentious. Without examining the total system in relation to the dynamics of the economy in general and the power hierarchy we would either fall into the reductionist camp or trap in the simplistic connection between control of material and mental production argued by proponents of the dominant ideology thesis. On the contrary, we have demonstrated that disruption is possible and the transmission of any 'preferred meaning' must be negotiated. Although the notions of progress and salvation are predominant in the official programmes contestations from popular entertainment are manifested in presenting sensual pleasure as desirable whilst secularisation emerges. Nonetheless, in this dialectical relationship the arena of ideological struggle is delimited by the dynamics of the economy and political control. The thesis therefore, points the way to more detailed studies in the sociology of mass communications, particularly in the structure of ownership and control of the media industries as a whole and the tensions within them, and how alternative and oppositional discourses are curtailed, so as to better understand this complex process of representation, reproduction and contestation.