The construction of social reality through the supernatural in Thai television drama programmes and the perspectives of Thai audiences

Wongwilatnurak, Nattawat (2018) The construction of social reality through the supernatural in Thai television drama programmes and the perspectives of Thai audiences. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

In the Western entertainment industry, supernatural television dramas are created to provide a form of entertainment that can be read as postmodern pastiche without explicit religious ideology or any emphasis on communicating social values to the audience. Thai supernatural television dramas, in contrast, are employed as an effective resource for promoting Thai Theravada Buddhism. This study examines the role of Buddhist teachings in the television dramas Ngao (2014) and Nang Cha Da (2015) which were the most-watched television programmes in Thailand in those respective years. This research examines the processes of production and consumption of certain television tropes to provide an understanding of the ways in which Buddhist teachings are constructed, represented, and perceived through television dramas. It analyses the textual features of the shows by comparing the content of the dramas with Buddhist scripture, examines the attitudes of the text producers, and analyses the viewer’s perceptions of Buddhist material in the shows. This study adopts qualitative research methods, including textual analysis, in-depth interviews with the text producers, and focus groups with the audiences. The contribution of this study is to demonstrate that Thai supernatural television dramas, functioning as a Buddhist classroom, are utilised by Thai ruling class as a tool in promoting Theravada Buddhism within modern Thai society and culture. Buddhist teachings presented in the dramas are in line with the strongly held beliefs of the producers and with Thai government policies. The results of this study demonstrate that Buddhist teachings embodied in the dramas are intended to encourage audiences to think and behave as good Buddhists and to establish a unified moral community. I argue Thai supernatural television dramas are intimately connected with the promotion of Buddhist teachings.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Television dramas, ghost stories, karma, Buddhism, nationalism, religion in Thailand
Subjects: L300 Sociology
V600 Theology and Religious studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2020 08:31
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 08:45
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/42370

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