Diretnan Dusu Bot

2016 AFPGR Participant

 

The Role of Female Blogs in Nigerian Democracy – A Netnographic Approach
About Diretnan

Diretnan is a first year PhD student in the Department of Media and Communication, supervised by Dr. Panayiota Tsatsou.

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About My Research

Even though Nigerian women constitute 49.4% of the country’s population, they make up only 25% of its internet population.  Recent global statistics however reveal the rapid growth of female blogs in Nigeria. Among the various forms of social media, it is only on the blogging platform that female presence surpasses that of men.  There is a huge readership of blogs by Nigerian women too. For instance, Linda Ikeji's Blog alone has over 200,000 visitors daily, with each blog post generating an average of 500 comments from readers daily.

My research explores how Nigerian women have embraced the practice of blogging and how blogs can serve as a platform for promoting women’s equality and empowerment. Blogs are said to provide a platform for African women to become active creators and disseminators of knowledge by writing about what is important to them. The use of blogs by Nigerian women for mobilization has also been witnessed in recent times in Nigeria. The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign of 2014 and the ‘Child Marriage’ debate of 2013 are critical examples. Being campaigns of online origination, (particularly from blogs and twitter) they add credence to the discourse on the correlation of internet discourse to offline democratic practice because online forums were used to mobilise offline protest movements that put pressure on the government to take necessary action (Tomchak, 2014). It has also become common-place for female bloggers to publish stories relating to domestic abuse, under-age marriage, rape, girl-kidnapping and forced marriage (which has become a popular trend in Nigeria), etc. in an effort to make under-privileged voices heard. In most cases, parents whose children have been kidnapped and forcefully married off use popular female blogs to create awareness and put pressure on government policy-makers who often visit such blogs directly or through representatives. 

The growing confidence in the Nigerian public about the potential of blogs to attract government attention is what my research investiges. It examines to what extent these discussions qualify as a form of active ‘participatory politics’ (as conceptualized by Keller, 2012) where discussions held about gender-based inequalities and discrimination involve proposing solutions, organising action to address such issues, or dialoguing with policy-makers (or their PR representatives)/media practitioners (popular bloggers, or online journalists). It is developed on the idea that the unrestricted nature of the internet might hold the potential to allow women's voices to be heard, thereby improving their democratic participation which is lacking. It however upholds the view that the presence of African women online is as important as the messages they try to communicate having come from a partriachal society.

The lack of available literature on the female use of the online platform to make their voices heard in the Nigerian democracy is also a critical aim of this study. The desire of this research is to bridge this literary gap, while providing information on blog readers; a population which is neglected by previous global researchers who dwell mainly on the activities of blog authors.

Finally, my research relies on the nethnographic principle that regards data as something that continuously emerges within the research process rather than information that is just ‘sitting there’ waiting to be retrieved. It uses nethnography as a live method of investigating online discourse  through prolonged participation and observation. This long participation and observation are necessary to fully conceptualize and understand the behavioural patterns of the Nigerian female blogosphere.

 

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