The internet's political impact and the penetration/participation paradox in Malaysia and Singapore

Cherian GEORGE*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

How intensively a communication technology is used depends on factors other than its level of diffusion. Accordingly, a country with lower penetration levels for a medium may, paradoxically, exhibit more and better utilization of that medium than a country with higher penetration. This penetration/ participation paradox is seen in the case of Malaysia and Singapore. Singapore is significantly ahead in terms of network availability, but it is Malaysia that has the more developed political activism online. The paradox cannot be explained by the two countries' regulatory regimes, which are more similar than different. Instead, the differences can be accounted for by traditional social networks that help to organize online dissent, and the motivation to use available technology in creatively political ways - both of which are stronger in Malaysia than in Singapore. This case study highlights the importance of social and political context in the shaping the impact of new communication technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-920+923
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Volume27
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Democracy
  • Journalism
  • Media activism
  • Social movements
  • Technology

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