The Impact of the American Cultural Transfer via the Mass Media on Sexuality and HIV Prevention among the Thai Youth

Goals: This project applies humanistic research methods to the study of HIV prevention among youth.  Drawing on sociological and mass communication theories, the research seeks to understand sexuality and HIV preventive behaviors of Thai youth in comparison with American youth with different degrees of socialization in global media contexts.  The study examines whether and how American cultural transfers to Thailand via the mass media — the driving force of contemporary globalization — affects sexuality, sexual attitudes and behavior of the Thai youth aged between 14-24 years old.

Research Objectives:

  • To understand how Thai youth interpret, construct and deconstruct norms and values in sexuality, sexual practices and HIV prevention portrayed in popular US media via globalization.
  • To conduct critical content analyses of popular US media in both Thai and American contexts.
  • To compare the similarities and differences in HIV prevention behaviors of American and Thai youths.

Methods: To achieve the research objectives, the research employs individual and focus group interviews and critical media analyses of American and Thai cultural products, together with a survey of socio-economic data and media use of the participants.  The study compares four groups with different levels of exposure to US popular media.  The first group is Thai youth living in a remote area in Thailand who have minimal exposure to the American cultural products via the mass media; the second is Thai youth living in Bangkok who have frequent exposure to the American cultural products; third, the Thai diaspora living in the US; and fourth, a group of American youth in the US.

The research seeks to understand, first, how the Thai youth decode, construct and deconstruct the meaning of the Western ways of life conveyed in American movies, TV programs, music videos and video games. Second, how media content (TV programs, social networking applications, music, video clips, movies, internet sites, especially video games and YouTube) that portrays American culture influences Thai youth’s sexuality, sexual attitudes and behaviors, and their HIV risk-taking behaviors and prevention.  Third, what political and socio-cultural factors reinforce or undermine differences in sexual attitudes, sexual practices, HIV-risk taking behaviors and HIV prevention of the Thai and American youth.  Fourth, how HIV prevention policies and sex education programs in the US and in Thailand affect the HIV risk-taking behaviors of the youth in both countries.  Fifth, it examines similarities and differences in the media content of the US popular media and the Thai popular media on the issue of sexuality and HIV prevention. Finally, the study investigates similarities and differences in HIV prevention behaviors of American and Thai youths.

Principal Investigators: The Principal Investigators in this research are Dr. Patchanee Malikhao, Division of Community Health Studies, Dr. Jarice Hanson, Department of Communication, and Professor Boonlert Supadhiloke, Ph.D., Bangkok University, Bangkok, Thailand.