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Personalised Political Dissent In Social Web

By Biju. P. R.

20 August, 2013

Our loneliness, personal issues with siblings, troubles in family, emotional life, personal tastes, private interest, eating habits, privacy behaviour, clothing styles, all that get vivid expression, diversification, and consolidation via mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and YouTube. It is rampant since the world we live frequently see class allegiances fragmented, political ideologies in crisis and at the same time cultural consumption increasing and loneliness terrifying in free time (Bourdieu 1984; Eder 1993).

How many among us who have Facebook, Twitter, etc., really known that we have teleported a whole lot of life style activism from atoms to bits? Do we know that our social web accounts have turned up a dustbin of our fringe thoughts of habitual practices? We do it at Net because it does not require much effort, cost, etc., and you need not to risk blood and flesh at bumpy streets and town squares for doing activism. We habituated to this new water bubbles and adapted to the tiny devices we have. We habituated to connective spaces even in our small bit of leisure time.

From atoms to bits, liberally we have reproduced and echoed the otherwise not possible usual life style practices. Abundantly, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Blogger and a bunch of social web platforms resurfaced to emulate our small bits of life stylism. Do we ever know that the Wall posts, Like marks, Share it widgets and a fleet of interactive tools in Facebook have turned up making our stockpile of nihilism, skepticism, pessimism about capitalist consumerism, and a whole bunch of globalised products. 

Tweet, retweet, follow and new set of connective platforms in Twitter have mirrored our notions about healthy life style, obesity fear, sugar sensitivity and pressure aversion. Usual now, we go behind life style advocacy blogs, shop-it-easy web portals etc. A collection of connective devices now reminds about a healthy life style that tell us about how small concerns of life have become a huge sort of political dissent against unashamed corporate culture and brutish consumerism.

Often times, we regretted over the Mcculture we have cultivated, Coca-colonisation our youth fascinated, Wallmarting resurfaced in local supermarkets, hollywoodisation that our film reproduces. How often do we create a Facebook share against the soft power imparted in our natives? Tweet, share, check, etc., we have inhabited to a new style of usual lifestylism both in atoms and bits. Does it matter when we use life style acts for making political dissent and discursive practices at Net.

Of course, life style politics at Net, i.e., the resurfacing of life style politics in social web incorporated a fleet of platforms to network based on personalised politics on the backdrop of the collateral falling of collectivised politics. E-mailism, e-petitioning, digital collaboration, online fund raising, online publishing tools, bridging online capital via weak-tie network, and a plethora of new forms of digital collaboration reproduces our life style politics in Internet.

Personalised politics

One of the great trends of our time is that civic cultures based in the stable group formations of both pluralist and corporatist polities are dying. The extent to which group membership declines, contributes to the demise of civic cultures and birth of personalised politics. Perhaps most importantly, since communication has implicated in the transformation of society and politics, it is necessary to specify the causal role played by communication technologies in the transition to less coherent societies and more individualistic politics.

The personal and the political are one and that lessons learned in one arena may have applications in another. Obviously, the conditions that allow for sustainable personal lifestyle changes are the same as those that allow for sustainable political changes. In both arenas, fear may work in the short run but is usually counterproductive in the long end. The beauty of living is a more powerful and much more sustainable motivator than fear of dying, i.e., both politically and personally.

In the everyday practices that individuals undertake many things with political resistance in mind. Lifestyle choices situated in close relation to issues of identity and consumption has profound significance in diffusing opportunity structure. Lifestyle is a term used within the discourses of sociology and marketing to refer to a coherent body of practices adopted by individuals, which may include “the routines incorporated into habits of dress, eating, and modes of acting and favoured milieu for encountering others. Individuals increasingly organise social and political meaning around their lifestyle values and the personal narratives that express them

Today, the new social agenda focuses on the nexus between lifestyle choices and political dissent. Creating an alternative subculture or lifestyle is the preferred choice of resistance to the effects of capitalism, State sponsored violence, development related displacement and rehabilitation, etc. From greed to over consumption, luxury to excesses, and from destruction of the environment to exploitation of worker, an easygoing solution will occur with a simple process of alternative consumption or lifestyle activism. Every day consumers are convinced that where they spend their dollar counts in supporting various causes

The enormous popularity of Web 2.0 lifestyle technologies such as what-to-buy-now blogs, what-to-cook-healthy portals, what-not-to-wear fashion blogs, and why-I- am-against-nuclear-energy communities, all which tell us how to fashion our life to fine-tune planet for sustainable life. The shopping and style guide apps available for our smart phones, good book read application on our profile, demonstrate that millions of people want the expertise of life-accomplish authorities. Now we live in a world of life style choices that make up a hybrid of technology, choice, alternate worldviews, sustainable life and political dissent.

Life style politics

My friends, your friends and their friends, now constitute a way of defining and addressing social conflict in highly complex societies. The cultural change of everyday life, interpersonal politics, specifically gender relations, life style practices; all have resurfaced a new form of cultural politics. Now all movements are centreless and decentred. 

Now the big question comes, what in fact, does collective action means in a society entirely permeated by microphysics of power? Contentious politics, cultural politics, life style politics, personalised politics, now a large group of cultural terminologies reconfigured to diffuse the cultural chemistry of new class, new power and new movements. The hidden networks of groups, secretive meeting points, circuits of solidarity, all that reformulate profoundly the image of a new potical actor; YOU, i.e ., the individual.

Is collective action taking place by way of "I" replacing "We" characterised by common traits and solidarity. Vertical and horizontal, individualised politics give shape to new form of movement and solidarity. Now unsolicited decision to participate in contentious politics characterise all contemporary movements. 

How often do we wonder how to protect our privacy, person, autonomy, individual agency, from the unacceptable compulsions of class position, status, gender trouble, and patriarchy. It is very common among the educated, singles, troubling housewives, the middle class, professional elites, even normal, idealised and glorified housewives, move on to Facebook Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace, Blogger, WordPress, etc., to find an expression of self, cultivate a new identity and find the pleasure and beauty of the world we live in. 

We may refer this life style activism, i.e., Individuals making political choices in an otherwise rigid social space. Atoms are not bits as a sea distance resurfaces between the two in the referral case of a particular class of people who afford frequently to clicktivism. e., life style politics at Net.

Thus, accompanied by the development of highly affluent groups, the middle class, urban rich, educated professional elites, the new structuring has given rise to the growth of a marginalised and deinstitutionalised subaltern in the fringe margins of Indian society. There are now an increasing number of unemployed, partially employed, and casual labour, street- subsistence workers, street children, and members of the underworld, groups that have been interchangeably referred to as urban marginals, urban disenfranchised, and urban poor. Such socially excluded and informal groups are by no means new historical phenomena. However, the recent new social restructuring seems to have intensified and extended their extended operation, network and collaboration.

Anna Hazare movement, Shaheen Dada, Ambikesh Mahapatra, Subrata Sengupta, Ravi Srinivsan, Aseem Trivedi, S. Manikandan, Jaya Vindhayala and a fleet of social media related episodes in India proves the symbiotic relationship between life style politics and digital media and it proves that a new social space has born in the trajectory of discursive practices and cyber culture.

About the contributor

I teach Political Science at Government Brennen College, Thalassery, Kerala. My current research is on the 'Interfaces between Social Media and Political Public', 'Business and Politics (here a book on 'Politics of Outsourcing' under writing and on hunt for a publisher), (The Political Class in India is my next project by 2015). I am an active academic blogger, but blogs only on academic topics currently. (http://bijugayu.blogspot.in/). Presently, writing two books. One is 'Clicktivism'; that is already commissioned, under completion and publication for Cambridge Scholars Publishing (Eds.), U K and the other one is titled 'Wired Public'; endorsed by a leading publisher. In both the books, trying to explore the Interfaces between Social Media and Politics in the Indian context. My immediate project in 2014 is Women's Movement, identity and Empowerment: A Study of AIDWA and Streevedi in Kerala.






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