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Purpose of paper/Inquiry of focus/Research questions: The purpose of this paper is to address Generation Y’s incoming presence onto the scene of education.  How might they affect the field?  How have the lines of technology redrawn the lines of learning and the dissemination of knowledge?  How do Gen Yers from marginal locations render theory in their contemporary world? I propose young men and women who come from marginalized groups within the larger population of Generation Y are part of a movement towards the reformation and re-conceptualization of social theory. Specifically, I propose these marginal groups are part of a larger movement to immantize and playlist theory—to make it meaningful, intimate, playful and personal, which could potentially be a way to re-arrange or disrupt dominant regimes of truth and “order of things” (Foucault, cite year).

Methodology: This paper is an attempt to insert the ‘theoretical playlist’ into the discourse of research methodology.  I draw on poststructuralism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, ecofeminism, and neomarxism within the concept of simulacra.

Context: The US Census Bureau (2006) headlined that, “nearly half our lives are spent with TV, Radio, Internet, Newspapers.” In addition, a plethora of advancements in technology continues to intensify this relationship, making our connection to technology pervasive, fundamental, and ubiquitous.  In particular, Generation Y is one population that is known for its intense relationship to technology (Howe & Strauss, 2000). The population is the largest group to-date, with birthdates ranging from approximately 1974-2003 (American Demographics, 2001; Alloway & Dalley-Trim, 2009).  Social media Optimization (2008) call this group, “the first online native population.”   The postmodern world of technology influences and shapes this particular population in multiple ways.  However, when Generation Y is discussed it is generally talking about affluent white heterosexual middle class young men and women.  According to standpoint theory, young men and women from this social location will have a different “standpoint” than others from a different social location, such as a young man or woman who self-identifies as non-white or bi/multiracial, low SES, and hetero/bi/homosexual. Furthermore, because of the historical socio-cultural political context of these ascribed multiple social locations and their positioning in the contemporary global world these individuals will experience power differently and to different degrees.  Understanding that these relationships are differentiated relationships formed from what Martucewitz calls differences that make a difference, meaning potentially transformative differences, or as Deleuze would call it, planes of immanence, are fundamental to theory reformation from people of marginal spaces. The saliency, the seemingly increased frequency of recognizing and understanding that there are multiple lived realities which conflict and contend with the dominant model demonstrates a need within educational theory to re-conceptualize, re-arrange, and re-visit policies, structures, and paradigms.  Assimilationist models, which advocate for generalization, and a minimizing, therefore trivializing different social locations, are still the dominant and most familiar paradigms. Hegemony is a sneaky thing. As Shiva beautifully states:

The issues are old, the instruments are new.  The paradigms are old, the projects are new.  The patriarchal urge to control and own everything is old, the expressions are new.  The ecological and feminist struggle to protect life is ancient, the context of the globalized economy is new. (2005, p. 133)

People from marginalized spaces who feel that marginalization on a daily basis understand and recognize hegemonic re-positioning cloaked over and over again through discourses, theories, conversations, and mainstream media. These issues, paradigms, urges, and struggles must constantly be re-addressed by people from marginal locations. Educational theory can play a big part, but first, it must be re-conceptualized.

Simulacra: The pervasiveness of postmodern conditions and globalized developments can be seen in the intensely indistinguishable relationship between subject and object.  In the past, researchers and “experts” were asked to approach their subject of study with an amount of distance, discouraging them from getting “too involved”.  What result is an attempt to appear “authentic” in and through ‘objectivity’ and ‘neutrality.’  Every thing and every body had its particular place and well-defined role.  The thing was seen as separate from the body.

However, the rise of the Informatization Era, (Hardt & Negri, 2006) which is made possible by the speed and power of technology, distantiation and separation conveniences quickly dissolved within the postmodern context.  Its results manifest itself in a flush existence. Increasing consciousness of hyperreality is made possible by technology’s overwhelming presence, further blurring the lines between the ‘outside’ and the ‘inside’, the real and the non-real.  What was once the ‘useful’, familiar, and artificially drawn lines used to identify and organize everything of significance, now ceases to be and/or exert the power it once held.  New lines are being re-drawn, shattering old categories and subverting ways of knowing that appeared stable and solid. Technology’s ubiquity reveals the blaring transparency, contradictory overlap and extreme fragility of these shattered boundaries, leaving the individual who built their life on those concepts anxious, uncertain, and left with a growing pit in her/his stomach. Further, this ‘pit’ signifies the suspended feeling one feels in the moment of crisis. It is a crisis which forces one to ponder and confront the gravity of how one conceptualizes and categorizes the world.

Baudrillard (1998) discusses the dissolve of previous boundaries stating, “It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of reduplication, nor even of parody.  It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself” (p. 166).  Also, he emphasizes that “to simulate is not simply to feign…simulation threatens the difference between “true” and “false”, between “real” and “imaginary”” (1998, p. 167).  The meaningful ways in which the public interacts, communicates, forms and maintains relationships, is dominated by contemporary forms of technology, creating a hyperreality which calls for no face-to-face interaction. Virtuality thus becomes the center stage to which reality is the main act, producing a techno- hyperrealism that defines postmodernity.

Lessig (2006) claims technology is, “change[ing] us.  They [digital businesses] change how we think about access to culture.  They change what we take for granted” (p. 43).  For example, community and identity are two arenas which become dramatically altered within this postmodern context.  Identity, which is intimately linked through the membership (or non-membership) to any one community and linked to non-membership as well, finds itself tightly interwoven in the fabric of the virtual, directing and constructing communities that no longer are rooted in the physical or geographical.  At any one time, individuals can be found participating in and identifying with multiple groups, wearing several hats that defined a particular group’s social context and interests.  Moreover, virtuality poses a unique opportunity for the individual to compose, de-compose, and re-compose identity and community in ways that can be playfully “re-mixed,” and re-arranged. Lessing (2006) comments that the significance lies in the active participation of ‘re-mixing’, which contributes to the re-writing and re-conceptualizing of reality; of particular interest, the overlap and connection to, identity, culture, community, and education all in one.

Furthermore, one can argue that identity becomes so inexorably entangled within this postmodern condition that reality ceases to be examinable without the exploration of these elements. The superfluity of the techno-virtual realm exponentially increases access to popular culture, making its prominent intensity felt around the world. Hyperreality, simulation, and virtuality via popular culture are elements that continue to define postmodern identity construction.

From a socio-economic standpoint, life is driven by the virtual flux and flow of the global market, enigmatic, and obfuscating one’s abilities, perceptions in, and accessibility to all dimension of reality—virtuality infuses itself in the everyday experience.  Differentiation between lives a priori sans virtuality is no longer conceivable or practical; the human experience is now enveloped and interwoven with these simulations and hyperrealisms making them appear normal and feel natural.

Virtuality reveals modernity’s relentless attempt to conceal the simulacrum’s message—that “the simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth which conceals that there is none.  The simulacrum is true” (Baudrillard, 1983, p. 1).  It challenges the grand narrative of absolute certainties with the ironic and paradoxical notion that the only thing infallible is the fallacies in which it stands upon. The field of subjectivity and the myriad of “necessary fictions”, make up, and are in fact, the only fact—although, are not equal in its density of influence or power.  Postmodernity emphasizes the relationship to the oxymoron: certainty can only be understood in degrees of uncertainty; reality is only as real as one’s senses tell her, and all experiences are both real and illusory.  A degree of playful seriousness is mandatory, producing and adrenalizing the heart and essence of postmodernity, virtuality, and immanence.

My own Theoretical Playlist: To be determined… 😀  But for now I’ll put a list of theoretical concepts/folks who I think will be instrumental:

  • Baudrillard & Simulacra
  • Lacan
  • post structural – Deleuze, Derrida, Jagodzinski, Foucault (?)
  • post colonial authors/philosophy -hooks, collins, Hall, Said, Willinsky, West,
  • postmodern philosophy, Badrillard, Lather, etc.
  • Indigenous philosophy/Eco Feminism – Urrieta Jr., Murillo Jr., Prakash, Shiva, Meyer


Here’s an updated introduction to the final paper for class:

Heading: Digital Culture, Identity, and Participation: Bridging the Health/Development Digital Divide in India

Since its inception, the field of development communication has been understood and operationalized through various approaches such as the dominant paradigm, diffusion of innovations, social marketing, cultural sensitivity, cultural-centrism, entertainment education, organizational communication, information communication technology, and recently, participation-based communication. Each of these approaches to development has its own ontological, epistemological, and axiological assumptions that are intrinsic to how each interprets development communication, its processes, and objectives. However, one may argue that in its simplest form, development communication may be defined as the process by which communication theories and strategies are used to stimulate social change and/or development.

Thus, regardless of which paradigm development communication is seen from, at its core, it is geared at some form of positive social growth that is intended to improve the quality of life for people and empower them (with knowledge as well as agency) so that they can make better, more informed decisions regarding things that impact their lives. The new paradigm or what is referred to as the participatory approach to development communication, shifts the agency of development from the researcher or the outside expert to the people who constitute the target for development communication programs. This shift is premised upon the belief that it is the community that knows best about the problems it faces and hence should be included in any development communication efforts that target the community (Dutta, 2007). This is held to be a reasonable assumption for development-related aspects such as health practices, attitude change, resource allocation, power distribution, and even family dynamics. A significant body of research has been aimed at investigating the factors that prevent people from adopting certain health behaviors or seeing value in an attitude change. Scholars have also investigated how certain power mechanisms operate at a global scale to deliberately subordinate certain parts of the world or certain groups of people in every part of the world. Further, Rogers (2003) theorized specific adopter characteristics that encourage some categories of people to adopt innovations while others are driven by several factors to not subscribe to them. While most of these research efforts have focused on Western society and conventional media, little attention has been paid to the types of barriers (structural/cultural) that development/health efforts have faced (or are likely to face) in India – a  society deemed conservative, collectivistic, traditional, and yet making giant strides in technology. Recently, considerable research has demonstrated how health and development campaigns are increasingly going digital as new media formats such as blogs, mobile technology, and social networking are being deployed in developing nations in order to disseminate health/development related information.

Against this backdrop, in this paper, I focus my attention on India and the potential reasons why developmental efforts are difficult to conceptualize, mobilize, and implement in the country. First, I will briefly trace the historical trajectory of development communication efforts in India – this is akin to mapping the communicative ecology as suggested by Horst and Miller (2006) in the context of proliferation of mobile technologies and the ecosystem approach to development presented by Chung & Pardeck (1997). Second, I will identify the gaps that exist between traditional development ideologies and realities in the Indian scenario. Third, I will attribute these gaps not only to certain structural barriers but also to some intrinsic cultural and psychological barriers within the communicative ecology, at the individual, community, and even at the nation-state level that development scholars will likely need to overcome before a developmental effort can fructify in India. Lastly, I will use a development communication campaign in India conducted via the digital media (undertaken by the BBC World Service Trust in association with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) in 2007 as an example of how culture can be successfully incorporated into development messages and how the above-mentioned challenges can be successfully overcome and/or worked around. This campaign also serves as an excellent example of how digital technology is being utilized in order to bridge the digital divide between the information-rich and the information-poor from a health communication perspective.

This paper will therefore:

  • delineate the history of developmental efforts in India from a communication perspective and will also explicate the chasms between development ideology and the many realities of praxis in India.
  • identify gaps between development ideologies and gaps in its practice in India.
  • offer a preliminary understanding of what factors (primarily cultural) development scholars, researchers, and practitioners need to bear in mind and what obstacles they should prepare for, when planning a health campaign in country as diverse as India.
  • use the various approaches to culture that have been utilized in development communication are used as a framework to critique the BBC/Gates Foundation Condom Campaign. Specifically, I will focus on the campaign’s approach to and conceptualization of ‘Indian culture’. I will use this campaign as an example to demonstrate how culture can be utilized at a structural, more meaningful level to attain developmental goals and impact health behavior.  The campaign is also being used as an instance where the systemic challenges identified in this paper were successfully worked with, and not against.

Here’s a tentative list of references I am looking at EXCLUDING the readings we have read for class:

Airhihenbuwa, C. (1995). Health and culture: Beyond the Western paradigm. Thousand Oaks,

CA: Sage.

Bhattacharji, S. (1982). Fatalism — Its roots and effects. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 10:2, 135-


Dutta, M.J. (2007). Communicating About Culture and Health: Theorizing Culture-Centered and

Cultural Sensitivity Approaches. Communication Theory, 17, 304–328.

Chung, W.S. & Pardeck, J.T. (1997). Treating powerless minorities through an ecosystem

approach. Adolescence, 32(127), 626-634.

Dutta, M.J. (2007). Communicating About Culture and Health: Theorizing Culture-Centered and

Cultural Sensitivity Approaches. Communication Theory, 17, 304–328.

Fan, S., Hazell, P., & Thorat, S. (1999). Linkages Between Government Spending, Growth, and

Poverty in Rural India. International Food Policy Research Institute. Retrieved Oct 21, 2010 from

Griffin, Em. (2008). A First Look at Communication Theory. McGraw-Hill.

Hofstede, G. (2009). Cultural dimensions. Retrieved  Oct 21, 2010 from

Horst, H., & Miller, D. (2006). The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication. Berg


Kar, S.B., Alcalay, R., & Alex, S. (2000). Health Communication: A Multicultural Perspective.

Sage Publications.

MacPhersen, Y. (Sept, 2008). World Service Trust Condom Ringtone. Retrieved Oct 21, 2010


Narula, U., & Barnett, P. (1986). Development as Communication. Southern Illinois University

Press: Carbondale

Noelle-Neumann, E. (1974). The spiral of silence: a theory of public opinion. Journal of

Communication, 24, 43-51

Normalizing Condoms in India. (n.d). Retrieved Oct 21, 2010 from

Papa, M.J., Auwal, M.A., & Singhal, A. (1995). Dialectic of Control and Emancipation In

Organizing for Social Change: A Multitheoretic Study of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Communication Theory, 5(3), 189-223.

Petrin, T. (1994). Rural development through entrepreneurship. Keynote paper presented at the

Seventh FAO/REU International Rural Development Summer School, Herrsching, Germany.

Rogers, E. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations. Free Press.

Ross. L. (2004). Objectivity in the Eye of the Beholder: Divergent Perceptions of Bias in Self

versus Others. Psychological Review, 111(3), 781–799.

Servaes, J. (1999). Communication for Development: One World, Multiple Cultures. Hampton


Singhal, A., & Rogers, E.M. (1999). Entertainment-Education: A Communication Strategy for

Social Change. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. London.

Singhal, A., & Rogers, E.M. (2001). India’s Communication Revolution. SAGE Publications

Pvt. Ltd.

I look forward to questions/comments/suggestions from all of you. 🙂


Social & Digital Structures 2.0: A Look into the Participation and Digital Divides in India

In the very early stages of developing a research topic for this course, I found myself wanting to critique technology projects like “One Laptop Per Child” within India. Basically, I wanted to critique the mission/end-goal of Western Multi-nationals and governments influence within India’s technology sector in hopes to “Bridge the Digital Divide”. Interestingly enough, this research would not be something that my family in India would be too happy about considering one of my uncles is the CFO of a major technology company in Mumbai.

Anyways, back to the research. The very tough situation within India is the fact that there is a divide, actually massive gap, between the rich and poor … so much so that according to Kenneth Keniston, professor of Human Development at MIT, 60 million Indian children do not even go to school each day. So for them is the question about working with ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) … helping to bridge the digital gap, or is it simply getting a proper education? But, when a person shifts their focus towards the 3%, or fewer, of the Indian population that is or can be connected then are we not just reifying the gap and/or even widening it?

The Project: My Methodologies & Position

I want to begin by saying that I have decided that this proposal might very well play into my dissertation or be a project that my dissertation looks into at the very least. I have decided to focus the project on India … and considering there has been a lot of work done on technology use in urban settings, I want to narrow the project’s focus a bit further by examining proper uses of ICTs within rural India. For example, one of my final research questions I posed was, “What projects are currently taking place within rural India that includes proper implementation of ICTs?” I would also want to narrow this focus a bit more by focusing on rural areas within the state of Bihar in northeast India. This way I would have a “base” in Patna (with family of course) where I can center myself, have access to certain amenities (basic human needs, family connections for financial/personal help, and the University of Patna’s library for further information/research gathering. One remaining question I have is what specific ICT will I look at? Do I want to look at Internet use on cell phones? Do I want to see how computers have impacted the agriculture industry? Or maybe I want to see how ICTs are being used to fight crime and corruption rather than the other way around … criminals and corrupt government personnel using ICTs to further their control? Maybe this is something you all can help me with! Or maybe this is just something I would have to decide while there.

This project, yes, will have a research based foundation but also needs fieldwork to work out the other questions that are present or may arise. I plan on this project last one semester to year depending on what form of fieldwork I am doing. I have not decided whether this project will be one in which is more ethnographic in its makeup or if I will add myself to a current project and observe through that lens. But, as I have mentioned observation and one-on-one interviews will be my main way of gather fieldwork information. The observations will allow me time to do my own analysis of project, but the interviews will either confirm or reject these analyses, and in the case of rejection … will show me what is actually going on.

I will also be including a 5-10 page position paper if this turns into a dissertation, or include 1-2 pages positioning myself within the project if this remains as such. I will cover my background as an American born South Asian and how my father’s “breaking” of family traditions as led me to a more liberal mindset (in comparison to my family overseas). In addition to this, it is this mindset which has sparked the interest to focus on rural Bihari communities rather than urban “poor, college students” like my family would want me to focus on (I know this through discussions I have had with them).

The Research


Here are the questions that I focused on:
1)    How does the participation divide interact with(in) existing social structures in India?

a.    How does one already socialize? (Notions surrounding hypersocialization)

2)    How have International Organizations influenced the participation divide for better or worse? (IMF, World Bank, Nasscom, etc.)

3)    What is “access”?

a.    What does it mean to different communities? (rich/poor, traditional/non-traditional, etc.)

b.    Is there an underlying issue to the problem of access? (Kenneth Keniston)

4)    What would a proper installation of technologies/ICTs in a rural Indian setting look like? (Attacking the participation divide”; pg. 32 of The Young and The Digital)

Sources (Note: This section might become the “Literature Review” … I don’t know yet)

The following is a list of my sources. I have divided them up into 2 sections: 1) Sources that go through the theory or setting up of topics like the digital divide, digital identity creation/culture, the participation divide, identity tourism, social life in cyberspace (also social networking), etc. This section will also include some of the texts from class … and 2) Sources that pertain specifically to India. The sources on India focus on ICTs not these previous theories.If any of you find sources of these theories and their practices/working within Indian culture/society please pass them my way!

The theory sources will lay the foundation for the examinations of the digital divide within India. But, to start the analysis I think I might use one of the “India” sources (Kenneth Keniston) which points out India’s particular situation concerning the divide and its stratification amongst the different groups within India (religious, caste, economic, political, etc.).

Theory –>

“Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture”; Tarleton Gillespie

“Free Culture”; Lawrence Lessig

“The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication”; Heather Horst

“Structures of Participation in Digital Culture”; Joe Karaganis ed.

The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future”; S. Craig Watkins

Coming Out in the Age of the Internet: Identity ‘Demarginalization’ Through Virtual Group Participation”; Katelyn Y.A. McKenna and John A. Bargh

“Life on The Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet”; Sherry Turkle

“Erasing Race?: A Critical Race Feminist View of Internet Identity-Shifting”; Margaret Chon

“Beyond Anonymity, or Future Directions for Internet Identity Research”; Helen Kennedy

“Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on The Internet”; Lisa Nakamura in “Reading Digital Culture”, 2001

“Relationship Formation on the Internet: What’s the Big Attraction?”; Katelyn Y.A. McKenna, Amie S. Green, and Marci E.J. Gleason

“Language, Identity, and the Internet”; Mark Warschauer

“Life Beyond the Screen: Embodiment and Identity Through the Internet”; Michael Hardey

“The Internet and Social Life”; John A. Bargh and Katelyn Y.A. McKenna

“The Augmented Social Netowork: Building Identity and trust into the next generation Internet”; Ken Jordan, Jan Hauser, and Steven Foster

“Can the digial divide be contained?”; Duncan Campbell

India (the following are hyperlinks to the articles themselves) –>

Bridging the Digital Divide: Gyandoot – The Model for Community Networks; Rajesh Rajora

Bridging Digital Divide: Efforts in India; Siriginidi Subba Rao

Information Village: Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural India; Shivraj Kanungo

Bridging the Digital Divide Lessons from India: The Four Digital Divides; Kenneth Keniston (this is the online version of his article)

“Political Economy and Information Capitalism in India: Digital Divide, Development and Equity”; Govindan Parayil

Literature Review

I am still working on developing this (I might have changed my focus once or twice). But, once I get a basic draft of this I will update this entire post. I currently have 12 original sources I’m still working through (again looking back at them to see if they would still work into my current topic) with an additional 4-7 sources that will be in this proposal.


Hey guys, I have updated my powerpoint for my final project proposal….check it out and let me know your thoughts. I changed my research area to southern Idaho (an area I am much more familiar with and interested in) and also was more interested in pursuing not just the question of how technology (or lack thereof) affects women’s careers in general….but affects their pursuit TECHNOLOGY RELATED careers (does women’s lack of access keep them from pursuing these types of careers?)

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 4, 2010 3:14 pm

    Hi Priyanka,
    I apologize for taking so long to comment to your proposal. My only question/concern/comment is/ concerns your language use in your research questions.

    From my understanding, asking yes/no questions can be problematic…
    For instance, what do you mean by “access” when you ask whether or not boys and girls have equal/unequal access to cell phones? What do you mean by equal and unequal?
    Won’t people’s subjectivities of what “access” and “equal and unequal” muddy your SPSSing? How will you measure and account and (I hate using this word) “control” for those subjectivities?

    Your second research question… I’m just curious and maybe you’ve already covered this in your “gap in the lit” section, but doesn’t parents SES absolutely affect gender differences? So maybe it’s not whether or not it does or doesn’t, but how?

    And for your last question what do you mean by varying skill levels?

    All stuff dealing with language use and assumptions. Anyways, let me know if these are helpful or if I’m just off my rocker. 🙂

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