Hidden participation in the public sphere: Understanding Malaysian university students’ public discourse practices in cyberspace

  • Mei-Yuit Chan Universiti Putra Malaysia
  • Shameem Rafik-Galea Universiti Putra Malaysia
  • Ngee-Thai Yap Universiti Putra Malaysia
Keywords: public discourse behaviour, public sphere, university students, Malaysia, friendship frame, social media, public assembly

Abstract

A recent development in Malaysia was the unprecedented rise in young Malaysians’ participation in the country’s social and political affairs, facilitated almost entirely by the Internet. This phenomenon caught many by surprise considering that university students in the country had been barred through legislation from active involvement in political activities for more than 30 years. Through a survey of 514 university students in a Malaysian public university, supplemented by interview data and samples of students’ writing, this study investigated in which ways Malaysian tertiary students are participating in the public sphere through the Internet. Following Hauser’s (1999) conception of public discourse as personal, interactive, informal, and distributed voices among the citizenry, we argue for a perspective that explains how online interactions in the friendship frame among young people represent their participation in the public sphere in the context of contemporary society.

Author Biographies

Mei-Yuit Chan, Universiti Putra Malaysia

Mei-Yuit Chan, PhD. is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication at Universiti Putra Malaysia. Dr. Chan’s research interest is in the area of discourse and communication. She can be contacted at cmy@upm.edu.my

Shameem Rafik-Galea, Universiti Putra Malaysia
Associate Professor with the Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Her research focuses on discourse studies, and language acquisition and use.
Ngee-Thai Yap, Universiti Putra Malaysia
Associate Professor at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Her research focuses on speech perception and production, representation of linguistic and world knowledge, and second language acquisition.
Published
2014-05-07
How to Cite
Chan, M.-Y., Rafik-Galea, S., & Yap, N.-T. (2014). Hidden participation in the public sphere: Understanding Malaysian university students’ public discourse practices in cyberspace. First Monday, 19(5). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v19i5.4829
Section
Articles