In the 2014 survey, we presented students with a list of twenty nations and regions, and asked them to write one word to describe each. The list included ASEAN, the ten member nations, and nine additional countries and regions, for comparative purposes (to compare how ASEAN and its members are described as compared to other regions and countries). As our main basis of comparison, we have translated and analysed the data from the ten primary national universities covered in the survey (see Chapter 3: Subjects and Methods for details; here as elsewhere, the primary university for Myanmar is the University of Mandalay [MU]). In this chapter, we present findings of how the students from those universities across the ten nations describe ASEAN and its members.
The data was organized by words, concepts (collections of largely synonymous words), and domains (collections of similar concepts). For example, dress, dance, or Islam would be words organized under the concepts of “culture” (dress, dance) and “religion” (Islam), all of which are collected under the “Cultural Domain” (in contrast to Political, Economic, or Geographic Domains). On the basis of the data collected, we identified eight distinct domains through which students think about countries and regions: Economics, Politics, Culture, Ethno-racial Concepts, Human Mobility (including Tourism and Labour Migration), Geography and Places, Symbols and Characteristics, and Disasters and Crime. The analysis below refers mainly to the “concept” level of analysis (combinations of synonymous words). Concepts are referred to as primary if they constitute more than 10 per cent of items from a national sample, secondary if between 5 to 10 per cent of all items, and tertiary if between 2 to 5 per cent of all items. Items constituting less than 2 per cent of responses are not considered, except in special cases.
The words associated with ASEAN across all ten nations are primarily related to cooperation and regionalism. In all nations, from 9 to over 28 per cent of responses referred to regional concepts, such as Southeast Asia, Asia, or Ten Countries. Similarly words that referred to cooperation, such as Cooperation, Organization, Unity, ranged from 8 to 33 per cent.