Articulating the Shan Migrant Community in Thai Society Through Community Radio
A Case Study of the Map Radio Fm 99 in the City of Chiang Mai, Thailand
Keywords:community radio, alternative public sphere, ethnic migrant, social participation, Thailand, community cohesion
Community media as an alternative public sphere for minorities has emerged separately from mainstream media and formal public spheres. In particular, its ethos of understanding community participation as a key component of operating a station highlights its potential to empower community members as active social agents. This study examines the social consequences of an ethnic migrant community radio station, Map Radio FM 99, to explore its role for the Shan migrant community in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Fieldwork was conducted for seven weeks between December 2015 and January 2016 to collect data using semi-structured interviews, participant observation and relevant documents. Employing a qualitative approach, this study found that participation in community radio helps participants be socially active in Thai society by maximising their participation in the social sphere using media. This study concludes that participation in Map Radio enables the Shan migrant community to better adapt to Thai society by providing and obtaining information necessary for their lives in Thailand and by contributing to the formation of a collective identity as ethnic migrant workers, thereby creating community cohesion. Nonetheless, lack of political efficacy as a result of the challenging political environment in Thailand might partly prevent Map Radio from functioning completely as an alternative public sphere.
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