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Title: Women watching television : the influence of Thai soap operas on Lao women viewers
Authors: Kwanjai, Mesirin
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study investigates how Lao women use and negotiate the storylines and female characters in Thai soap operas to construct a sign of agency and identity in order to enhance modern lifestyles and relationships and how local cultural policy-making is reacting to citizen’s transborder media consumption. Questionnaires, TV diaries, focus group discussions and interviews were used to collect data in three regional areas of Laos: Vientiane, Houayxay and Bolikhamsai, where Thai television soap operas are undergoing a revival of popularity. This study identifies three key themes to explain Lao women’s agency, identity, self-satisfaction and social aspiration through the lens of their Thai television soap operas viewing. Firstly, brand name products and fashion in the soap operas provide a rich insight into the lives of Lao women. The relationship between what Lao women wear in their daily lives and what is acceptable by political authorities for the preservation of traditional dress presents a very real cultural challenge for young women. Secondly, individualism and personal freedom have been transmitted through Thai TV soap storylines. This socio-cultural trend impacts on Lao women’s shift in attitudes towards changes in family structures, romantic relationships, premarital sex, cohabitation, teenage pregnancy, and perceptions of LGBT people. Thirdly, changes in public and personal perceptions of feminine beauty are found to be associated with Lao women’s desire for white-skin, body dissatisfactions, and use of cosmetic surgery. Data suggest that Lao women today have more agency, choices, freedom and well-being, the increased views on personal life and gender equality, but less supporting quality education and decent work. Drawing on audience studies, feminist approaches and developing the concept of individualisation and detraditionalisation, the thesis concludes that the effects of individualisation of Lao women as audiences increasing their liberated life and relationship choices, yet at the same time maintaining traditions and social norms.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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