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Tradition and Modernity: A Semiotic Analysis of Weddings in Thai Magazines
While foreign influence is speeding up the process of modernisation in Thailand, it is also considered to be one of the reasons Thailand is losing its traditional customs and way of life. I have chosen to examine the changes in Thai culture by investigating weddings in Thai magazines, due to its complexities and sophisticated incorporation of a variety of signs and symbols such as clothing, liturgy, and food. Sociologists have observed that Asian weddings tend to combine commercialised icons of modernity and those of national or local traditions. The coexistence of Thai and Western symbolic expression of consumption and romance found in weddings can demonstrate the relationship between the indigenous and the foreign, high and low art, masculine and feminine, and most importantly tradition and modernity. Moreover, it will provide a deeper insight into Thai wedding customs and the significance in the construction of cultural identities and social status.
In the 1980s, western styles of weddings spread to Asia and shortly after that, Thailand’s first bridal fashion magazine (Brides International) was published in 1985. In addition to regular wedding columns in various Thai magazines, currently there are 4 wedding magazines circulating the market. My research aims to analyse how these magazines are communicating social values of weddings through photographs and narratives, as well as the changes in contents and style of communication over time. The outcome of this study will prove valuable to future study of Thai traditions and contemporary consumption culture as well as the role of print media in terms of dictating cultural norms in developing countries like Thailand.