Accepted Paper:

Photographic Expressions of Work on Facebook in a Peri Urban Indian Environment  


Shriram Venkatraman (Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi (IIIT-D))
Nimmi Rangaswamy (Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad)

Paper short abstract:

This study examines the photographic expressions of work on Facebook in a fast transitioning peri urban environment in South India. It explores the dimensions of status and identity associated with work through photographs posted in the online profiles of research participants.

Paper long abstract:

Anthropology tends to view work as more of a continuum with the rest of life, compared to the common perception of work as an entirely differentiated sphere of life, though the degree of overlap will clearly be culture specific (Wallman, 1979; Ortiz, 2003). A major advantage of using photographs on social media, as with ethnography more generally is that they locate work within a much more holistic sense of a person's daily life, rather than isolating it. The evidence presented in this study suggests that social networking sites are an important space where this integration of work is visible.

The field site for this study is a peri urban area in South India, which originally comprised of agricultural lands and is now transforming rapidly catalyzed by the influx of global IT businesses. This has led to a confluence of traditional and modern, formal and informal work settings. This can very well be seen through the pictures that people post of themselves on their social networking site profiles. These pictures are often related to broader concepts such as status or identity which in turn maybe complicated by contextual issues of gender, caste and class. The pictures by nature may be genuine, touched up or even fake. So the analysis of this material is a useful research endeavor for facilitating the more general task of anthropology in contextualizing work within the broader parameters of people's lives.

Panel P04
Comparative studies in social media photography