Issue BriefsPublished on Sep 14, 2023 PDF Download
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India’s Gender Digital Divide: Women and Politics on Twitter

This study explores the spatial politics of Othering and whether women are
marginalized in political conversations online in India. It's methodology consists of an analysis of
23,350 tweets over an eight-day period. It shows a significant underrepresentation of women in
Twitter's political conversations, which mirrors a real-world marginalization of women in India's
political processes.

The Self/Other binary, a sociological concept first coined by Emmanuel Levin as and developed further by numerous theorists, is a useful sociological tool for unpacking the nuances of gender relations. In psychoanalytic theory, the self is a social product formed in relation to a symbolic ideal. This symbolic ideal is the embodiment of white, heteronormative, maleness, and exists in opposition to all other identities that are rejected as Other . Oppression is inter sectional, which means the formation of a gendered female Other, always intersects with race, sexuality, class, and ability, with increasing levels of disenfranchisement the further one falls from the symbolic ideal. For those who resemble the symbolic ideal, clear, rigid boundaries are established between the self and the Other, while the self seeks to establish as much distance from Otherness as possible. The Other, internalizing this hierarchy, moves through life avoiding the material consequences of not falling into the categories of idealized subjectivity.

The participation of women plays a fundamental role in the health and efficacy of any political society. This involvement is defined not only by the levels with which women share electoral representation with men, but also in terms of the space available for them to engage with and contribute to political conversations. While online communication has been lauded for the empowering potential it has for women and civil society, in reality, the democratic space of the Internet and social media often replicate and even amplify real-world inequalities. Through analyzing 23,250 tweets under political trending topics over an eight-day period, this study seeks to explore whether or not the typically maledominated nature of politics in India is mirrored in political conversations online.

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