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Deconstructing the public sphere: Facebook in Myanmar and sexual and reproductive health and rights in a period of political transitions (2016-2021)


Author: Dancoisne, Camille
Under the direction of : Marie-Sybille de Vienne
Langue française Texte français

Keywords: Political Science, Myanmar (Burma), Contemporary Myanmar, Social networks, Facebook, Public space, Sexual and reproductive health and rights, Online content analysis.


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In Myanmar, political shortcomings and strong socio-cultural sensitivities make it difficult to share information on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), a crucial political and health issue. By deconstructing Habermas’ concept of public space, this thesis questions the role of Facebook in the translation of SRHR. This study specifically identifies and analyses the activities of three types of pages : organizations or programs that exist offline, online awareness initiatives, and product brands. Through the study of 69 posts and more than 30,000 comments in Myanmar language, it identifies various forms of interaction between Facebook users. The data illustrates that users have repurposed the spaces created, for activities such as sharing their individual experiences, obtaining medical consultations, or challenging certain traditional norms. The study therefore highlights the place of groups and individuals (and not only that of States) in the translation of Western conceptualizations embodied by SRHR. Although there is little politicization of Myanmar SRHR on Facebook, the social network makes individual and collective SRHR needs more visible, and simultaneously participates in the creation, implementation but also violation of new defining elements. Without falling into “digital solutionism,” this work also explores the structural, representational, and political limits of Facebook, particularly following the February 2021 coup. With a methodology based on online content analysis, it also participates in discussions about conducting research in challenging contexts, particularly in situations of political and social crisis and violence.