Mobilisation and Narratives in the Time of Crisis: Case Study of Dalit Online Activism in India



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The rise of new media and online communication greatly affected marginalized communities and social movements that struggle against discrimination around the world. Many representatives of such communities turned to modern technologies in the expectation of changing their status and solving crises that face not only from the outside but from the inside of the community as well. This paper focuses on one of such populations in India – Dalit communities. Dalit socio-political activism emerged as a reaction to hundreds-year-long caste inequality and discrimination in social, political, economic, and religious interactions and participation in society. In recent years Dalit communities have amplified their voice through new media platforms. However, of the more than 200 million Dalits in India, only several thousand, mostly men, have access to the Internet. This specific social group is nowadays the leading mobilization force against caste discrimination and socio-political change regarding caste issues. This paper introduces preliminary results of a research project mapping characteristics of this Dalit activist population, its specific discursive patterns, and its usage in mobilization goals through the analysis of their texts published on Dalit blog platforms. The project adopts the methodological approach of computational text analysis ('distant reading') to build and examine the corpus of activists’ public online writings. The aim is to model general discursive cultural patterns, their proportional representation in the population, and their variance in the light of chosen motives (Ambedkar, Buddhism, secularisation). The presented research uses explorative tools of computational text analysis to address the role of religious and secular motives for socio-political mobilization with its overlap into the perception of modernity in developing Asian countries.
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