Skip to main content

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 homogenisation of 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 the 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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Carey, J.W. (1989).Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Unwin Hyman, Boston, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Davidson, D. (1984).Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Harsono, A. (1997). Indonesia: From Mainstream to Alternative Media,First Monday: A Peer-Review Journal on the Internet. Available at

  4. Kanchit Malaivongs (1997). Internet Services in Thailand. Available at Jad Kaan Raai Wan [Manager's Daily] (1997). 6 October, 30.

  5. Laothammatas, A. (1993).Mob Mue Thue: Chon Chan Klaang Lae Nak Thurakij Kap Pattanaakaan Prachaathippatai [Mobile Phone Mob: The Middle Class, Businessmen, and the Development of Democracy]. Matichon Press, Bangkok.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Poster, M. (1997). Cyberdemocracy: Internet and the Public Sphere. In Porter, D. (ed.)Internet Culture. Routledge, New York, 201–217.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Rorty, R. (1989). Solidarity, In Rorty, R. (ed.)Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK, 189–198.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Rorty, R. (1991). Solidarity or Objectivity?, In Rorty, R. (ed.)Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers. Cambridge University Press. Cambridige, UK, 21–45.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Walzer, M. (1994).Thick and Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Soraj Hongladarom.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hongladarom, S. Global culture, local cultures and the internet: The Thai example. AI & Soc 13, 389–401 (1999).

Download citation


  • Cultural homogenisation
  • Internet
  • Michael Walzer
  • soc.culture.thai
  • Thai culture
  • Thailand
  • Thai language
  • ‘thick’
  • ‘thin’
  • Usenet newsgroup