DIGITAL SITES OF PROTEST: FARMERS’ PROTEST IN INDIA AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF A COLLECTIVE IDENTITY ON FACEBOOK
Keywords:social movements, digital activism, social media, protests, farmers' protest
In September 2020, the Indian government passed a set of farm laws, which have a pro-market leaning. While the nature of the passing of the bills is debated, largely it is seen as a controversial move, as the bills were passed without proper consultation with the farmers' community. The farmers' community, to create a sympathetic narrative to their own cause, set up a Facebook page called $2 in November. The Facebook page has around five hundred thousand followers and gives daily updates via photos, statuses, and videos about the farmers' protests. This paper looks at digital sites of protest and platform affordances, through which un-informed or unaware hyper-individualised publics are brought in by the protest community to help construct a collective identity. It examines the ongoing farmers’ protest in India and a Facebook page that was specifically created by the protest community called, $2 , and how it is able to create a common collective identity despite the cultural and linguistic differences in India. Using textual and visual analysis, the paper focuses on audio-visual posts on this page with extended captions describing personalised experiences of the farmer protests and helping in the construction of the collective identity.