Date of Award

1995

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Robert Hornik

Abstract

This research explores the relationship between AIDS messages in the mass media and interpersonal discourse on AIDS in Thailand. This research explores which aspects, with whom, in what context, and in what ways people discuss AIDS, specifically in relation to their exposure to AIDS messages publicized by the Thai mass media. This investigation seeks to provide an understanding of the relationship between AIDS messages in the mass media and people's interpersonal discussions.

In this research, two elements of mass media roles in stimulating AIDS talk constitute the central focus of research: context building and content providing. The term context building describes the process of influencing people's perception of the social appropriateness of some topic and the degree of public support for the expression of certain opinions on that subject. Content providing here is understood to mean the process of shaping the parameters of people's presentation of AIDS by initially providing shared meanings. This study considers media content building and content providing to jointly contribute to individual discourses on AIDS.

This research employs survey research methods based on qualitative focus group research and in-depth interviews. The target population is the potentially sexually active segment of the general population (aged between 15-29). Approximately 1800 subjects, married and unmarried males and females, were sampled in four districts of Kanchanaburi province in Thailand. Respondents were asked about the subjects and extent of their conversations about AIDS, the choice of discussion partners and their attendant levels of discomfort with this topic.

The findings of this research supported both the context and content providing roles of mass media for interpersonal discourses. The most interesting finding is that there is a strong association between conversation topics and media reception for particular AIDS issues which the media had emphasized. The implications of these findings were discussed in terms of agenda-setting and the evolution of frames.

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