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Monday, June 6, 2011

“Online Political Activism in India: The Role of Social Media”

Annexure II




1. Broad Subject -Online Politics

2. Area of Specialization -Social Media

3. Duration -18 months

4. Principal Investigator -Gayathri O

i. Name: -Gayathri O

ii. Sex: M/F -Female

iii. Date of Birth: -06-04-1981

iv. Category: (GEN/SC/ST/OBC) -OBC

iv. Qualification: -M A,JRF,Ph D Part-time Ongoing

v. Designation: -Assistant Professor in Political Science

vi. Address:

Office :Gayathri O

Assistant Professor ,

Department of Political Science

Govt.College Madappally


Residence :Gayathri O

Mundakkatharayil House

Kallelibhagam P O




Email :bijugayu@gamil.com

5. Co – Investigator(s) :Nil

(i) Name:

(ii) Sex: M/F

(iii) Date of Birth:

iv. Category: (GEN/SC/ST/OBC)

(iv) Qualification:

(vi) Designation:

(vii) Address: Office: Residence:

6. Name of the Institution where the project

will be undertaken :Govt.College Madappally,Vadakara

(a) Department :Political Science

(b) College/University :Government College Madappally

(c) Whether the institute is

located in rural/backward area :Nil

7. Whether the College/University is approved

under Section 2 (f) and 12 B of the UGC Act? :Yes

8. Teaching and Research

Experience of Principal Investigator :

a)Teaching experience : a)UG _5_Years,b) PG_Nil_Years

b) Research experience :Nil

c) Whether the project has been approved by the

University for thedoctoral degree ? If so, please

indicate :Nil

i. Date of Registration :

ii. Name and designation of the supervisor

approved by the University :

iii. Name of the University where registered :

d) In case the teacher holds a doctoral degree :

i. Title of the thesis :

ii Year of the award of degree :

iii. Name of the University :

e) Publication :

Papers Published :

Accepted :Two

Communicated :One

Books Published :

Accepted :

Communicated :


Proposed Research Work

9 (i) Project Title

“Online Political Activism in India: The Role of Social Media”

(ii) Introduction

The relationship between internet and collective action has constituted very serious academic pursuit recently. The serious question is whether internet facilitates political activism online. The pro-democracy movement in Middle East and in Egypt, the diplomatic tussle created by Wikileaks cables, the use of internet platforms in General elections recently in India and the representation of Nira Radia tapes in internet platforms have recently created a renewed interest in the power of internet to influence public action in India.

Origin of the research problem

The new apparatus of social media have reinvented social activism in an unprecedented manner. With Facebook , Twitter ,blogs and other platforms , the traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been transformed. It has become easier for the people of poles apart to collaborate, coordinate, and give voice to their concerns. For a democratic country like India, virtual vigilantism offers new mechanisms of expression, representation and mobilizing of interests and political opinion. The upshot of this novel form of vigilantism is that diverse social and political groups are finding their voices outside the realm of conventional politics. In other words, political parties are no longer monopolizing the public opinion domain. Civil society and voluntary groups are injecting fresh ideas into politics and mobilizing social interests and changing public perceptions through new media. Having bypassed conventional politics, these groups are engaging directly with the public with the use of social media platforms in particular and internet in general.

Activism is an inherently social practice. Movements cannot succeed without good communication and effective collaboration among activists. Here comes the importance of social media. This study explores into the public sphere theory of Habermas and makes an attempt to trace the instances of public sphere in the cyber space in the Indian context with special reference to the online campaigns organized through various social media platforms.This study at the outset proposes that public sphere online already exist in India.Publics do exist online in the same frequency as those are offline.However it does not mean that public space online are different from those offline.The online activism are just an extension of the offline activism.

Review of Research and Development in the Subject:

Empire by Michael Hardt Antonio Negri 496 page book which attemts to theorize the economic and political world today.The book decentered is the present world and often confusing dispersal of power structure.

The Future Of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World by L a w r e n c e L e s s i g with 368 pages argue that the forces that the original Internet threatened to transform are well on their way to transforming the Internet ... the future that promised great freedom and innovation will not be ours. Lessig opines that internet originally viewd to free the world is actually run within a controlled environment with no freedom.

Jonathan Zittrain in TheFuture of the Internet observes that internet is failing.The generative properties on internet has given rise to new softwares .The creative anarchy of internet has led to security problems. The result is the rise of “appliances” that are designed to do one thing well, but are limited compared with PCs. These include video-games consoles, internet-phone handsets, iPods, smartphones and locked-down web terminals. They can all connect to the internet and do things that could be previously done only on PCs. They are not prone to viruses. But, Zittrain worries, the spread of such “tethered appliances” endangers the internet's innovative culture.

In Two Bits, Christopher M. Kelty investigates the history and cultural significance of Free Software, revealing the people and practices that have transformed not only software but also music, film, science, and education. In this study of the Free Software/Open Source movement, Christopher Kelty provides a fascinating look into a world that may initially seem arcane to those outside the field, but which illuminates many connections between "geek" culture and the wider world as well. Free Software is, at its root, a bit of an enigma. Meshing public and private spheres in complicated ways, it seeks to create software that is "privately owned, but freely and publicly accessible.

International status

The relation between internet and politics is a 1990 connection in Western countries. The link between public sphere and internet has been very serious academic pursuit at the international scale by this time. The role of social media for promoting social activism has been but very recent in origin as a theoretical pursuit. The role of social media especially Facebook and Twitter in the protest movement for democracy in the Middle East area has been a nascent research area.

A DigiActive Introduction to Facebook Activism by Dan Schultz is an important path pulling research . The social basis of activism explains why Facebook, an increasingly popular social networking site, is a natural companion for tech-savvy organizers. Because of the site's massive user base and its free tools, Facebook is almost too attractive to pass up. However, the site has its flaws and is not a guarantee of organizing success. This guide is written to provide some insights into what works, what doesn.t work, and how best to use Facebook to advance your movement.

THE DIGIACTIVE GUIDE TO TWITTER FOR ACTIVISM by Andreas Jungherr has been another research in this area.Narrates the activist potential of Twitter platform.

Internationally there are many studies have done on the area of social media and political activism.It has become a growing research are as of now.Social media has become an effective tool among people all over the world.So it is most necessary to organize research in this area.

National Status

India very recently found people using internet especially for networking.Social media recently has attracted many young people.There are different social media platforms in India which are largely used by various activist groups for online campaigning.For instance blogs(Blogger),networking sites(Orkut and Facebook),emailing(Gmail and Yahoo) ,chat rooms,video sharings(You Tube),photosharing(Flckr and Piccaso) Free Mobile SMS (indyarocks.com and way2sms.com)Microblogging(Twitter) are used by various Ngo groups and activist groups to reach out their messages to millions of people.Anna Hazare campaign for Lokpal Bill,Greenpeace Campaign for Grenn India are few instances of online campaigning in India.

Unfortunately no more studies have been found on the research agenda in India in recent days on this area.It is immensely helpful to organize research in this area and to redirect people towards the path of using internet for good and socially useful purpose especially by youth.Nationally not much studies are reported to bring a fresh insight.Almost the study will be explorative.

Significance of the Study

The aim of the study is not to document the number of online platforms available for organizing online activism. It broadly looks to explore whether such platforms formed really meet the requirements of public sphere as discussed by Habermas and other critiques.

(iii) Objectives

The study has a broad objective of understading the nature and direction of public sphere online in India.With this broad idea in mind,the study has pinpointed following objective.

  1. To identify social media platforms which facilitates social movement campaign online?
  2. To explore into the online social movements in India.
  3. To theorise the emerging public sphere online India.

(iv) Methodology

Widely the work is based on qualitative research methodlogy.Primary data will be collected based on the online interaction with participants.The work is in the nature of explorative nature as there are not much study is reported in India.

For the purpose of organizing research,online interaction is mostly recommented.Therfore,electronic equipments are highly recommended.Nettop,E-reder,Internet connection probably portable,Apple iPod,MacBook and Sony Handycam are higly recommended.


1. Berman, J., & Mulligan, D. K. Issue advocacy in the age of the Internet. In D. M.Anderson & M. Cornfield (Eds.), The civic web: Online politics and democratic values. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. (pp.77–83).

2. Kellner, D. (2004). The media and the crisis of democracy in the age of Bush2. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 1(1), 2958.

  1. Calhoun, C. (Ed.). (1992). Habermas and the Public Sphere. Cambridge: MIT Press. Cerulo KA 1997, Reframing social concepts for a brave new (virtual) world. Sociological Inquiry, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 48-58.

4. Garnham, N. (1992). The media and the public sphere. In C. Calhoun (Ed.), Habermas and the Public Sphere (pp. 359-376). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

5. Dahlgren, P. (2001). Media and the transformation of democracy. In B. Axford & R. Huggins (Eds.), New Media and Politics (pp. 64-88). London: Sage.

6. Squires, C. (2002). Rethinking the black public sphere: An alternative vocabulary for multiple public spheres. Communication Theory, 12 (4), 446-468.

7. Anderson, J. (2003). New media, new publics: Reconfiguring the public sphere of Islam. Social Research, 70 (3), 887-906.

8. Emirbayer, M., & Sheller, M. (1998). Publics in history. Theory and Society, 27 (6), 727- 779.

9. McDorman, T. (2001). Crafting a virtual counterpublic: Right-to-die advocates on the Internet. In R. Asen & D. Brouwer (Eds.), Counterpublics and the State (pp.187-210). New York: State University of New York.

10. Mater, M. (2001). A structural transformation for a global public sphere? The use of new communication technologies by nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations. In R. Asen & D. Brouwer (Eds.), Counterpublics and the State (pp. 211-234). New York: State University of New York.

(v) Year-wise Plan of work and targets to be achieved.

Plan of Work

The proposed work will be completed in the following schedule.

Field visit

-Three months Internet based online interaction

Questionnaire preparation

-Three months


-Six months Online Survey

Data Analyses

-Three months

Writing and Reporting

-Three months

Total months required

-Eighteen months

(vi) Details of collaboration, if any intended :Nil

10. Financial Assistance required :

Item -Estimated Expenditure

I. Books and Journals -30000/-

II. Equipment, if needed

(please enclose quotations) -150000/-

III. Field Work and Travel -50000/-

iv. Chemicals and glassware -NIL

v. Contingency ( including special needs) -70000/-

Total: -300000/-

Three Lakh only

11. Whether the teacher has received

support for the research project from the

UGC under Major, Minor, scheme of

support for research or from any

agency? -Nil

12. (a) Details of the project/scheme

completed or ongoing with the P.I -Nil

(b) Institutional and Departmental facilities

available for the proposed work :


Other Infrastructural facilities :

13. Any other information which the investigator may like to give in support of this

proposal which may be helpful in evaluating.

To certify that:

a. The University/ College is approved under Section 2(f) and 12(B) of the

UGC Act and is fit to receive grants from the UGC.

b. General physical facilities, such as furniture/space etc., are available in the


c. I/we shall abide by the rules governing the scheme in case assistance is

provided to me/us from the UGC for the above project.

d. I/we shall complete the project within the stipulated period. If I/We fail to do

so and if the UGC is not satisfied with the progress of the research project,

the Commission may terminate the project immediately and ask for the

refund of the amount received by me/us.

e. The above research Project is not funded by any other agency.

Name & Signature

(a) Principal Investigator

(b) Co- Investigator



(c) Registrar/Principal

( Signature with Seal)

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