Engaging Community through Community Leader: Thai Urban Community Perspective

By Kasemsuk, Chintawee | Journal of Development Communication, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Engaging Community through Community Leader: Thai Urban Community Perspective


Kasemsuk, Chintawee, Journal of Development Communication


Developing community has attracted the attention of many researchers in recent years. Community may be viewed as systems composed of individual members and sectors that have a variety of distinct characteristics and interrelationships (Thompson et al., 1990). Community development requires medium as a tool to bring all information from government or private agencies to people who are the main target of such development. Therefore, it is important to stimulate and motivate people or community members to perceive community leaders who are regarded as the closest personal media to the community members. Interpersonal communication is a process to communicate between persons or exchange information between two or more parties (reciprocal interaction). Generally, interpersonal communication is often face to face communication or two-way communication which also consists of complete elements including senders or sources, messages, media or channels to pass the messages to receivers or audience. Moreover, effect, feedback and interaction are included, too. It can be said that the community will develop if members in the community communicate with each other, exchange opinions and conduct activities to reach their goals. Therefore, interpersonal communication within the community is a significant mechanism to drive community power to become a "strengthening community".

Kanjana Kaewthep et al. (2006) indicated that the characteristic of interpersonal communication is a two-way communication which allows both messenger and receiver to interact with each other. The sender and the receiver may remain face to face or in different places but they can talk and react to what each other says. In fact, these two parties are both senders and receivers at the same time.

There are two stages to spread news throughout the community. At the first stage, the news may transfer from the mass media to a person as leader who turns ideas into action. At the second stage, the leader will play an important role in transforming ideas or behaviours received from the mass media to other related people in the community. Lazarsfeld et al. (1948) proposed that interpersonal influence is very strong and opinion leaders play a vital role in spreading information.

Personal media such as community leaders, therefore, are considered as the persons who bring messages to others to create interpersonal communication between several groups of people in the community. Personal media may be a well-known or acknowledged person within the target audience including opinion leaders and community leaders who are familiar and reliable media for the community. The community leaders are regarded as a significant mechanism to build relationships between people in the community. Besides, they may initiate innovative ideas to turn into action and development for positive change in the community which is participating in development to generate benefits for the people in the community.

The majority of research on personal media in Thailand tends to favour the context of the rural community. This is because the majority of Thai people live in rural areas. Few studies have explored the urban community context. However, today, a growing number of rural folk are coming to live and work in the urban community. Therefore, this research focuses on investigating significant characteristics of urban community leaders to the extent that they constitute community engagement for community development.

Research Objectives

1. To discover personal media characteristics as a role in engaging urban community development.

2. To investigate the communication characteristics of personal media those provide for urban community development.

3. To generate awareness of the importance of engaging the community and community development.

Development Communication

Generally, communication may contain at least 5 elements including 1) sender, 2) messages, 3) channel, 4) receiver, and 5) response. …

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