Toward the Sufficiency Economy Perspective: The Mass Media and Cultivation of Social Capital Among the Rural Youth in Thailand
In the wake of the global financial crisis in 1997, His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SE) was widely publicized and integrated into the National Economic and Social Development Plans, leading to the shift of the national development paradigm from economic development (1961–1996) to people-centered development (1997-present). In view of the wide use of the mass media and the Internet to disseminate the best practices of the SE philosophy to inspire the Thai people, this study sought to examine whether the mass media and culture facilitate or hinder the development of social capital in young people in rural areas. Based on a sample survey of 15–24-year-olds (N = 400) in all six districts of the South Eastern province of Trat in 2014, the study provided empirical evidence in partial support of the hypotheses. Among the mass media, television use appeared to enhance both interpersonal trust and group networks among rural youth while radio listening contributed to group networks and newspaper reading enhanced interpersonal trust. Use of the Internet turned out to be a useful medium to cultivate both trust and group networks in young people. Similarly, rural youth’s engagement in cultural events led them to be more trusting of others and engage in group networks. More important, television, radio, and the Internet as well as cultural engagement appeared to be a “leveler” of social capital among the less privileged socioeconomic subgroups in rural Thailand. Thus, subjected to further empirical test, SE is a valid conceptual paradigm for an integrated multimedia campaign to achieve sustainable development goals.
KeywordsSocial capital Sufficiency economy philosophy Interpersonal trust Group networks Mass media use Cultural engagement 1
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