Browsing by Author "Mpofu, Sibongile"
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- ItemAre “untouched citizens” creating their deliberative democracy online? A critical analysis of women’s activist media in Zimbabwe(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2017-12) Mpofu, Sibongile; Rabe, Lizette; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Journalism.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examines women’s political participation in Zimbabwe by investigating whether online media platforms, specifically blogs, provide Zimbabwean women with spaces for critical communicative interaction where they can challenge the dominant discourse and participate in politics. Anchored in the broader conceptualisation of political participation, the epistemological premise of this study explores how everyday conversations by women in blogs on the five selected websites (WCoZ.org, Kubatana.net, Herzimbabwe.co.zw, Herald.co.zw and Chronicle.co.zw) morph into political conversations. Given that the use of the internet, specifically digital communication platforms, is an important pathway to the enhancement of deliberative democracy in society, particularly the engagement in the public sphere by those who are otherwise marginalised from mainstream politics, this study contributes to these debates by determining how and under what circumstances everyday conversations permeate into political conversations. By focusing on women in Zimbabwe, who are without alternative communication platforms to articulate their agendas following state control of the media, this study investigates how political expression and democratic engagement manifest on different types of new media platforms. Womanism, feminist critical and critical political economy theories were used as the most appropriate theoretical points of departure. These paradigms offer a holistic analysis of women’s lived experiences in Zimbabwe and of how political, economic, cultural and social institutions influence women activists’ activities in new media. A qualitative research approach employing the collective case study as a research design was adopted. Data for analysis were collected from the five purposively selected websites and from online semi-structured interviews conducted with selected bloggers from these websites. The data were analysed using qualitative content analysis, employing the qualitative analysis software package ATLAS.ti Version 7. The findings reveal that blogs, as alternative and securer spaces, offer possibilities for social transformation by enabling Zimbabwean women to reclaim their space in the political, socio-economic and cultural spheres. This is in contrast to the view that digital media are driven by existing hierarchies and power structures. By introducing their views on issues that affect them and developing a voice of their own, Zimbabwean women are not only challenging the dominant discourse and social norms that oppress them, but also illuminating various other significant personal impacts that women derive from blogging that are relevant for political participation, offering a nuanced understanding of possibilities for political participation and democracy from the premise of everyday conversations whereby previously “untouched citizens” can create a deliberative democracy online.