Justifying Virtual Presence in the Thai Silk Industry: Links Between Data and Discourse

Mark Graham

Abstract


This article examines some of the discourses being put forward as justifications for Internet use and altered commodity chains in the Thai silk industry. Those discourses are then compared to data on the relationship between the Internet and prices and wages. The article specifically looks at claims about who is benefiting from value chain reconfigurations, and then it compares those claims to insights about the Thai silk industry collected using a series of surveys and in-depth interviews. The article demonstrates that claims are put forth that altered commodity chain topologies will necessarily result in an accrual of economic and cultural benefits for producers and/or consumers. However, there is little empirical proof that the integration of the Internet into the Thai silk industry is having any noticeable effect on prices or wages.

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