Social Media and Conformist Voluntarism in the Neoliberal Era: The Case of Rana Plaza Collapse in Savar, Bangladesh

Social Media and Conformist Voluntarism in the Neoliberal Era: The Case of Rana Plaza Collapse in Savar, Bangladesh

Nafisa Tanjeem (Rutgers University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0279-1.ch004
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Abstract

In this essay, the author proposes a cultural geographic understanding of the space of social media and explore placemaking processes through which microcelebrities got engaged in neoliberal conformist voluntarism. Inspired by a middle class urban civic consciousness, microcelebrities produced and circulated a homogenous cultural and ideological composition of women garment workers, disconnected from their material lives and collective histories. The author juxtaposes two cases of virtual activism around the Rana plaza collapse and the Shahbag protest order to examine how gender, class, neoliberalism, and nationalism determine the politics of exclusion and inclusion in the space of social media. She also considers some oppositional practices that challenge the microphysics of power and politics of representation in these spaces.
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Space, Place, And The Social Media

Feminist geographers have theorized place as a container of geographical materialities and imaginaries which formulates experiences of globalization. Doreen Massey argues that place does not have any rigid boundary or static history. Therefore, it is not possible to ascribe a single and unique identity on a place. Place is constituted by dynamic constellation of social relations in an interconnected world. Massey questions straightforward identifications of “global” and “local” and refutes the notion of a hegemonic global place penetrating a vulnerable local one. Global and local places are interlinked through sensory engagement between human activities and globalizing forces. Collapse of borders between global and local places does not homogenize any place. Global and local places characterize uneven and unique geographical development in a world with diffused boundaries (Massey, 1994, pp. 146-156).

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