To cite this article: Meesuwan, S. 2016. The effect of Internet use on political participation: Could the Internet increase political participation in Thailand? International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies 12 (2): 57–82, DOI: 10.21315/ijaps2016. 12.2.3
The Internet, as part of information and communication technology, provides citizens with access to information, and allows them to interact with others in online communities. It could also increase the users’ political potentials by decreasing the costs and resources’ restraints. Given these benefits, this research asks whether or not Internet use would increase political participation in Thailand. Using the 2010 Asian Barometer data conducted in Thailand, the relationship between Internet use and political participation was tested. The results indicate that Internet use positively correlated with political participation, after controlling for individual resource measurement, namely demographic characteristics, education attainment, socio-economic status, political efficacy, and organisational skills. The odds of the respondents, who used the Internet to contact news media to solve their problems with government officials or policies, and to get together with others to raise an issue or sign a petition, were greater than those who did not use the Internet. The findings suggest that the Internet had mobilised people to actively engage in political participation. Policy recommendations aiming at promoting Internet use to encourage political participation and to strengthen the Thai democratic system as a whole are listed at the end of the research.
Sanyarat Meesuwan is a lecturer in the College of Politics and Governance at Mahasarakham University in Thailand, where she started working in 2006. Taking a leave from the University, she went to further her study at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she received her PhD in Political Science in 2013. Her current course load includes teaching comparative politics; research methodology in political science; politics and government of America; and politics and government of East Asia for both undergraduate and graduate programs. In 2014, she was awarded a fellowship from the Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies to conduct a research in South Korea for a year. Her current research interests are democratisation and political participation in Thailand, and comparative politics and international relations in the Asia-Pacific region. Her recent research project, funded by the King Prajadhipok’s Institute, is on Preah Vihear Temple border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia after the 2013 International Court of Justice ruling.